DAVENPORT -- When Iraqi Ahmad AlDulaimy arrived in the Quad-Cities about six years ago, he was met at the airport by Moline World Relief representatives.|
But their welcome didn't stop there. They helped Mr. AlDulaimy find an apartment, get a job, enroll at St. Ambrose University in Davenport and with his citizenship application.
Help didn't stop even after that, he said.
Anytime he had a question, someone at World Relief was able to help him. "And we still always see one another at picnics and events World Relief holds."
Mr. AlDulaimy said he "will share my story of who I am, where I came from, what my plan was when coming here and how World Relief helped guide me" at a Passport to Progress fundraiser and awards ceremony at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Rogalski Center at St. Ambrose University, 518 W. Locust St, Davenport.
Tickets are $25 and available at World Relief's office at 1204 4th Ave., Moline.
The event will include dinner, an international silent auction, entertainment by the Calvary International Revival Church choir and Grace Myanmar Christian Church's children's choir of Moline, awards and testimonies from Mr. AlDulaimy and Sudanese refugee Mary Agok.
World Relief Moline marks its 15th anniversary this year, director Amy Rowell said.
It began in 1999 when a small group "of our Bosnian friends" moved from Chicago to the Quad-Cities. Amy Grove was the first director and stayed for 10 years. Ms. Rowell has been director for five years.
World Relief has helped 1,500 refugees from 20 to 25 countries, she said. "We resettle 180 to 200 people a year.
"But we will never claim we did it all alone," Ms. Rowell said. "Our mission has been to empower local churches to serve the most vulnerable. It has taken a partnership with local churches and organizations, and we need it to continue to be a communitywide program."
Needs will continue to build, she said, citing reports of refugee camps being built for hundreds or thousands of people fleeing Syria, many of whom had fled to that country from Iraq many years ago.
"As long as there are refugees, we will work hard to provide safe environments for them here," Ms. Rowell said. "Until the day Christ comes, there probably won't be an end to this."
The need for more volunteers also will never end, she said. "We're always looking for people willing to get involved and help us."
Mr. AlDulaimy said he hopes if people remember nothing else from his testimonial, it will be the message of how important helping people is.
"I can easily see myself dedicating my life to helping people," he said. "I may even work for World Relief someday."
He already volunteers as an interpreter, and in many other ways, Ms. Rowell said. "It's such a relief that I can call and get his help."
Mr. AlDulaimy, 31, lived in Baghdad, Iraq, for 24 years, before moving to Lebanon in 2007, awaiting the chance to move to America two years later.
"I didn't see a future for me in Iraq," he said. "It's my country, and I love it, but I know my future is here."
Getting American citizenship and an American college degree will make him much more marketable, Mr. AlDulaimy said.
World Relief's help has been invaluable, he said. "Other refugee organizations don't do all that they do."
He said he's heard critics downplay World Relief's role, saying it's just all the government's money and the government's doing, "But when we get here, it's not the government we see. We see them, the people from World Relief."
Address: East Moline.
Birth date: May 23, 1983.
Occupation: Trinity Logistics Corp., Davenport.
Education: Bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering from Iraq; and working on a second bachelor's in computer network administration at St. Ambrose University, Davenport.
Hometown: Baghdad, Iraq.
Hobbies: Professional ping pong player, pool, soccer, traveling, surfing the Internet and meeting new people.
One thing I feel strongly about: "There is a hope always."
I wish I knew how to: "Cook professionally."