When you think ‘Middle Eastern man’ what do you think?

Two dads spent their days in hospital in Libya keeping each other company, as their children received heart surgery.

There are stereotypes floating around about Middle Eastern men. They say that all Middle Eastern men are angry. They are all terrorists. They are mean to their families, and don't love their daughters.

You've surely heard it too.

But like most stereotypes, they don't hold up when you actually meet Middle Eastern men.

Isaac has given a kidney, his salaries, his time, his car, and every room in his home in order to help others.

We met Isaac. He has given a kidney, both of his salaries, all his free time, his car, every room in his home, and even his own blood—in order to support the struggling Christian community in Baghdad. He has sacrificed everything he has to love well. 

Zainab’s dad spent two months, drove 700 miles, through 9 cities and through deadly territory, saw 7 doctors to finally find someone to fix his girl’s heart.

We met Zainab's dad. He spent two months, drove 700 miles, through 9 cities and violent territory, and saw 7 doctors to finally find someone who could fix his girl’s heart. 

Majid and his family fled ISIS twice, but never gave up hope that their son's heart would be fixed.

We met Majid. He put aside the pressure of his family's dire situation, having fled ISIS twice, to find someone who could help his son Isaac's defective heart.

After fleeing ISIS with his family, Jamal returned again and again, to buy the freedom of captured Yezidi girls.

We met Jamal. After he fled the terror of ISIS and got his family to safety, he returned to the danger zone again and again to buy the freedom of Yezidi girls who had been kidnapped and enslaved.

Despite unfair government policy and international sanctions, Hussain's father never gave up hope that his son with Down Syndrome would have his heart fixed.

We met Hussain’s dad. He worked tirelessly against a government regime that wouldn’t care for his son with Downs Syndrome and international sanctions that prevented his son from getting the medicine he needed. His persistence paid off. 

We met displaced dads who scooped up their families in the middle of the night to run away from ISIS, and took in two young girls whose parents had been killed.

We met displaced dads who scooped up their families in the middle of the night to flee ISIS. This dad, who didn't know where his family's next meal would come from, took in two extra children whose parents had been killed. 

A displaced Shabak dad tries a coat on his son, determined to find one that fit just right.

 We met displaced fathers who sorted through dozens of coats to find the one that would fit his boy just right.  

Families of displaced Yezidis from Shingal are still displaced, a year after ISIS drove them from their homes. But the fathers in these families take very good care of them.

We met fathers who made a new life for their families under blue-tarp tents after ISIS took everything they owned.  

Walla's dad kisses her hand as she lays in bed and sucks her thumb after her lifesaving heart surgery.

And there were the tender, compassionate fathers we met recently in Libya. They were anxious for their children to be well, and so grateful for the care they received!

We met fathers who whisper into their son's ears to calm them when they are afraid. We met a father who pursued treatment for his son for 12 long years, only to find out that his son’s heart was perfectly healthy! We met Salam's father, who between adjusting soothers and making his son comfortable, told his son's doctor “I will not forget it—never!” 

When we hear the words 'Middle Eastern men' we remember men who are persistent, hopeful, determined, loving, generous, compassionate...and sometimes very tired. We think of very normal, and very extraordinary dads.

There is beauty beyond the stereotype.

 

About Erin Wilson

Communications Officer for Preemptive Love Coalition, based in Iraq. Photographer + artist, storyteller + story gatherer, peace maker + bridge builder, student + teacher, unrepentant lover of unexpected beauty.


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When you think ‘Middle Eastern man’ what do you think?
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