I have seen so much misinformation, fear and hysteria over Hawaii Governor Ige’s statement that Hawaii welcomes Syrian refugees. The ugliness makes my heart hurt.
Please look at the photo of a girl I have come to know. I have not met Kamar in person because she lives in Syria. We got acquainted on Twitter about two years ago, drawn by our mutual interest in musical artist Adam Lambert. You can check out her fan art HERE on her Facebook page.
Kamar is 19 years old. She and her mother live in a small city that I will not identify. When I asked to interview her I told her my first concern is for her safety.
Since a phone interview and email were out of the question, we carried on our extended conversation via private messaging on Twitter.
JM: Kamar, tell me more about yourself.
“Well, I was born on April 29th, 1996 (with a heart condition called fallot tetralogy, I survived by a miracle!). I was actually born in Venezuela, to Syrian parents. I moved to Syria when I was 8. I studied in Venezuela and Syria.
That means I know three languages (yay!) and now I am studying at the faculty of fine arts, in my little city. Right now I live with my mom (my parents divorced 6-7 years ago) and I have two beautiful cats.
JM: I know you’re an artist... is that your passion?
“Art is my passion, yeah. Music, too. Dancing… acting… Even writing!! I love anything that "moves the feels" as I like to call it.”
JM: What do you dream about when you dream about your future?
“Thinking about my future, you know, it's hard to think about a bright future while living in Syria . . . but I try to stay positive, you know. But it's reaaaally hard. For example, my friends are reaaaally depressed. . They just wanna leave this place. They feel like there's no future for them here. And the sad thing, that it's true. L”
JM: I know you said your city is “safe,” but what does that mean? How has the war touched your lives?
“I've said our city is safe, but we've had our share of explosions and bombs too (most of them were near my neighborhood!! Cuz I live close to the hospital and fire department).
“It has also touched our lives in the way that, a lot of refugees from other parts of Syria are coming to this city, umm, the prices are OFF THE HOOK, the electricity sucks (on the good days, we have 6 hours ONLY a day of electricity), the internet gets cut way too much, oh and it is extremely slow.
“And there have been too much martyrs from this city, I mean, all of the people I know have at least a family member dead from the war.
“ But we are way better than other cities.”
JM: You’re only 19! Are you and your friends able to be teenagers, or does the weight of problems overwhelm?
“Can we be teenagers? Well . . .. No, we can’t. Boys worry about how are they gonna get out of Syria so they don't go to war. And girls, well, worry about their safety, their future. We can't be teenagers.”
JM: Have you and your mom talked about what you’ll do?
“Oh yes we talk a lot!! But it's not that easy to just leave and start from zero in another place. That’s the thing
“But we do have that idea in mind. I don't know. That’s the topic that makes the home most tense.”
JM: Kamar, if things were different, what would you wish for your own life?
“Well, for me . . . a safe home! With 24 hours a day of electricity, fast Wi-Fi, food, my mother, my cats . . . (maybe I’ll need a bigger house to adopt more cats and maybe dogs . . .. hmmm) Oh, and I've always wanted to be famous, LMAO.”
JM: Finally, Kamar, what do you want to tell the world about you, your family and the Syrian people?
“Here’s what I want them to know: Most Syrian people (and I'm saying "most" because in every community there are inhuman bastards . . .) Most of us are just normal human beings that just want to live a peaceful, normal life. DO NOT believe the propaganda that says, "All Arabs are terrorists.” I'm 100% Syrian, do I sound or look like a terrorist to you?
“Yes, we may have our share of bad people, but hey, so does America, and so does the rest of the world. Syrian refugees escaped from their homes from all the terrorism happening in their cities . . . do you guys REALLY think they would start trouble all over again? They just want some peace of mind, people! I mean, they are sick of seeing blood!”
My dear Hawaii friends-- my dear AMERICAN friends-- when I think about the millions of people who are just like Kamar and her mom, who are trying desperately to flee war, death and persecution and finding doors slammed in their faces— it makes me ashamed.
Isn’t America, after all, a country built on the blood, sweat and tears of immigrants?
Who ARE we and what have we done to our better selves?
Watch Kamar sing "Imagine." There's a special message at the end.