“You know you have truly become an American when you dream in English.” That was the anecdote used by Dr. Akram Boutros at the annual banquet of the International Service Center (ISC) held earlier this year. Metro Health CEO, Akram Boutros, immigrated to the United States from Egypt when he was a child. He was the keynote speaker at the annual banquet. ISC is part of a national collaborative that provides services to refugees throughout the world who come to the United States to escape oppressive conditions, whether they be war, dislocation, political repression or natural disaster.
Executive Director of ISC, Karin Wishner, spoke with passion about the urgent need to assist refugees coming to this country who very often have not experienced the simple conveniences of running water, a roof over their head and freedom from daily fear of violence. Dr. Boutros also praised the work of ISC at a time when the world has experienced so much chaos and war.
The United States authorizes entry into its borders where oppressive conditions can be shown. Such showing, however, can often take years, sometimes more than a decade for a family to be approved for entry and still only about seventy thousand refugees are admitted annually into the United States.
Dr. Boutros explained that as a nation of immigrants and the leading world democracy, the United States is and should remain the inclusive, welcoming bastion of freedom that it is known for.
The Cuyahoga Land Bank and ISC partner together in identifying and providing housing for refugees that come through ISC’s doors. “We seldom find partners like the Cuyahoga Land Bank, so willing to embrace our work. Bringing families into the United States, for them, is sometimes a matter of life and death,” said Wishner. Currently, the Cuyahoga Land Bank and ISC have completed the placement of forty four refugees (nine households) in seven homes supplied by the Cuyahoga Land Bank. ISC has experienced almost no turnover for this housing.