An Interview with Alvera Tohi

by Gordon Nary


Gordon: What did you study at the Antonine Art Institute?


Alvera: I studied drawing and painting to develop my talent.


Gordon: What is your talent and what do you wish?


Alvera: I have so many talents that I consider a divine blessing. I am a volleyball player as I have participated in many tournaments in Iraq and Lebanon. I also write short novels. A painter and participated in many exhibitions .. As well as I love working in epoxy to make molds and antiques. I also love photography and accounting.


Gordon: To which parish do you belong and approximately how many members does the parish have?


Alvera: I am from the Chaldean Catholic community and I work with all Catholic churches (Syriac Catholics, Chaldean Catholics and Salesian fathers Don Bosco) and I am one of the people who care most about the affairs of Iraqi refugee families, which now number about 900 families distributed as follows (Chaldeans - Assyrians - Syriac Catholics - Orthodox - Armenian - Latin) , after the number was more than 6000 families from 2014 until 2018.


Gordon: Something that you think is one of the proudest things in your industry?


Alvera: All the things that I have done I proud of them because I consider them an achievement. I am a painter and I used to sometimes sell paintings in art galleries, exhibition and donate money to refugee children. During four years,I am a manager of Angels of peace school so I helped nearly 2,000 children . Attention to patients who depend on me a great deal to secure treatment As well as my participation in the campaign of MISEREOR (With war or with People?) In Germany . My work with CNEWA\PONTIFICAL MISSION is to help children at our school that supported by CNEWA AND MISEREOR.


Gordon: When and why were you first interested in refugee issues?


Alvera: About 4 years ago, I decided to dedicate my life to children and the needy, so I felt that Divine Providence always accompanies me. And because I am a refugee like them, I certainly know their suffering and problems more than other people because I am from the same environment and I have the same difficulties.


Gordon: What are the principal causes of the refugee crisis in Lebanon?


Alvera: The reasons are many and complicated. Iraqi refugees have fled to Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan because of ISIS, constant threats and identity-based killings. As well as in order to search for safety and the future for children. In Lebanon, things are not very good. We are not legal and we do not have legal residency. This means that work is forbidden and studies are forbidden. So we opened a school for Iraqi refugees.


Gordon: What can our readers to the help you address these challenges?


Alvera: Firstly, I ask all of you to pray for us, because through prayer, miracles happen. Then I ask you to help me convey my voice to all humanitarian organizations and immigration departments to expedite the files of Iraqis stranded in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. As you know, we fled to these countries to search for a third country for asylum.


Gordon: What are your ambitions and where do you want to migrate and why?


Alvera: My ambitions are big and my dreams are bigger. But they will not all be realized if I do not arrive in the United States. My family and I want to immigrate to the United States because this country is considered a haven of safety and peace and for the realization of dreams, and it is a country of freedom and work. I am a hardworking girl and I try to do everything to save the future of these people


Gordon: Thank you for an exceptional interview.