My friend Mimi's nephew Devin is a Marine Captain stationed in Iraq. He's been there for several tours and he wrote a letter home to his family this week that Mimi gave me permission to publish.
If you were wondering "what does Devin want for Christmas??," please follow the below link and choose from a number of great products:
Do not worry, I have done thorough research on the organization and it is legitimate. Also, a close friend from high school used to work with them and can vouch. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) was founded in 1933 at the request of the head of the International Relief Association (IRA), Albert Einstein, in order to assist Germans suffering under Hitler (sean-hope I have your attention). Since then the IRC has provided aid to Refugees fleeing from conflicts in Vietnam, Zaire, East Pakistan, Uganda, Chile, Soviet Union, Lebanon, El Salvador, Poland, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Iraq, and most recently Afghanistan. For over 75 years, the International Rescue Committee has been a leader in humanitarian relief. They mobilize quickly, bringing sustained support to regions devastated by violence and deprivation. The most important aspect of their mission, in my mind, is that they provide hope to extremely vulnerable populations. I will explain what that means in a minute.
First, I'm sure you're asking at this point.. "uh.. is he serious? Isn't he a Marine? Has he gone soft? Is this spam??.." Nope, just hang with me. Providing support to a population who have become refugees as a result of armed conflict benefits more than just those individuals. It benefits you, your family, and your MARINES fighting abroad. How you ask?
I shall explain:
As I'm sure you can imagine, refugee camps are a terrible place. They are filled with displaced individuals who are jobless, moneyless, education-less, hungry, and angry because they were forced from their home/family (directly or indirectly) and moved to a trash heap in a countr that doesn't want them.
The depression that results from this environment breeds something called "hopelessness," especially in youths. Back in my F&M days while studying the Hopelessness Theory of Depression I learned that experiences in such negative environments can lead to the formation of dysfunctional beliefs, which in turn lead to negative self views, which in turn leads to depression, followed by desperation. THIS is why you have a "vulnerable population" within these refugee camps. Desperate people are easily exploited. Many terrorist organizations or extremist groups recognize this and are taking advantage of the social and psychological dysfunction within these camps to breed dysfunctional beliefs (Radical Islamic Extremism) and recruit suicide bombers.
You often wonder, "how can someone walk into a crowded square and blow themselves up?" Research refugee camps on the border of conflict ridden regions and Im sure you will understand how easy it would be for an al-Qaida operative to recruit individuals using promises of hope, meaning to life, and a guaranteed spot in heaven. A large majority of the suicide bombers who are killing our troops in Afghanistan are not Taliban. They are extremists who grew up in refugee camps bordering Pakistan. Look deeply into conflicts in Somalia and the Congo, you will find similar backgrounds in the majority of the extremists, guerrillas, or terrorists involved.
SO, by getting me my Christmas present you can save a life and disrupt the proliferation of terrorism by providing these underprivileged individuals with an alternative form of hope. Give them education to fight extremist views, food and medicine to maintain their desire to live, and HOPE that they can create a better life for themselves and their families. Help fight the long war.
If you can find a present like this in a store at the mall.. Let me know... I'll buy stock.
Thanks for taking the time to consider my Christmas list. There are many organizations to give to during the holidays and this is certainly not the only one you should look into. I look forward to seeing/hearing from you all this Christmas. Take care, Miss you!!