Niagara Gazette —
The conditions of the doctor’s visa — if he could get one — would require he work in an under-served population. Maness and Berti had hired him to work mostly at the hospital’s Neighborhood Health Center on 9th Street.
“We’re very sensitive to making sure the care we provide there is the same that you or I get,” Maness explained about the center. “Not just any person will do.”
“Once we knew him, I could not walk away,” Maness added. “He was the right person to serve those patients.”
Maness and Berti contacted a variety of agencies and politicians including Homeland Security, and the offices of Sen. Louise Slaughter, Sen. Kirstin Gilldebrand, Sen. Chuck Schumer and even Sen. Jay Rockefeller in Virginia.
Then, unexpectedly, for reasons no one really knows and the embassy never explained, the doctor’s visa was granted more than a year after he applied for it.
Last month, another celebration occurred, and this time, it had an ending many had been waiting for. About 30 people gathered with balloons and signs at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport to welcome the doctor to his new home. Staffers had also found him a temporary home in Lewiston, where he no longer fears gunfire and bombs. But he is deeply concerned for his family and fiance back home in a country he describes as, until recently, safe and beautiful, with rich culture, good schools and a health care system free to the poor.
Media reports say the war in Syria, a country which is 85 percent Muslim, is being stirred and amplified from fighters coming with their own agendas from other Middle East countries, and that the conflicts have been unresponsive to international attempts at mediation.
The doctor, a Christian, expresses sadness for all those he left behind. “Innocent people just want to live their lives. They just want to be able to walk safely in the streets.”