As a community based agency, Alliance has done a stellar job at strengthening and empowering the refugee and immigrant clients that have been walking through our doors for the last 30 years. But one thing the agency wants to strengthen even further is our ability to increase awareness about the purpose behind the work we do and why it’s essential to Houston’s continuing success.
That is why Alliance hosted the Houston premiere screening of the documentary film After Spring in order to do just that; increase community awareness and dialogue about the Syrian refugee crisis. Few are aware of the everyday reality of the war’s victims after they are forced to flee Syria. Even fewer are aware of the arduous and perilous journey refugees must endure to make it to the U.S. After Spring is a film that gives the audience a glimpse into that reality.
The film follows two Syrian families living in the Zaatari refugee camp as they attempt to rebuild their lives in a “place that was never meant to be permanent.” Home to nearly 80,000 refugees, half of which are children, Zaatari is the largest camp for Syrian refugees and is now Jordan’s fourth largest city. The film shows how the lives of those living there are on hold. It is a harrowing reflection on what life is like inside a refugee camp.
After the screening of the film, the directors Ellen Martinez and Steph Ching engaged the sold-out crowd in a panel discussion about the global impact of the refugee crisis. According to them, the solution to the refugee crisis isn’t building more camps. Rather, they say that more countries need to accept refugee resettlement and take in victims of civil war and persecution. Dr. Mahmoud Samman, a successful engineer and Syrian community member, also addressed the audience about issues Syrian refugees face locally, including access to employment and health care.
The conflict in Syria has now displaced 4.25 million people internally. That is one of the reasons Alliance is so dedicated to creating an environment of inclusion and welcoming to refugees and other vulnerable populations in Houston. By engaging local communities, Alliance continues to actively ensure that newcomers have the tools to contribute socially, economically, and civically in their new home.