Thursday, September 3, 2015

Icelanders invite Syrian refugees into their homes

As of today, more than 4 million refugees have fled their home country of Syria, and (are you sitting down?) another 7.6 million are displaced inside Syria, according to the United Nations. As Syrian cities are reduced to rubble, the number of victims pouring into Europe is greater than anytime since World War II. Some European nations are halting trains and building fences and walls to keep the refugees out. But one nation has extended the hand of friendship.

Iceland may soon increase its refugee quota.  Originally, the government agreed to accept only 50 this year, but Icelandic author Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir, writing on Facebook, urged the public to demand that more be admitted. Then the people spoke. Out of 320,000 Icelanders, more than 10,000 offered to take Syrian refugees into their homes, including a single Mom named Hekla Stefansdottir. "I have a 6-year-old son," she wrote. "We can take a child in need. I'm a teacher and would teach the child to speak, read and write Icelandic and adjust to Icelandic society. We have clothes, a bed, toys, and everything a child needs. I would of course pay for the airplane ticket." The Facebook page Syria is Calling says, "Refugees are our future spouses, best friends, the drummer in our children's band, our next colleague, Miss Iceland 2022, the carpenter who finally fixes our bathroom, the chef in the cafeteria, the fireman, and people to whom we'll never be able to say, "Your life is worth less than mine."

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