New Smile for Wafaa

Our friend Wafaa, a refugee from Syria resettled in Nashville, is known as the man who can’t stop smiling, and the guy with the great laugh. His last decade has included more danger and devastating circumstances than most of us will experience in our lifetimes: the loss of all he’d loved and known in Aleppo, a permanent disability leaving him unable to walk, and six long years stuck in a refugee camp. Yet Wafaa radiates a relentless joy, and brings an authentic light into every room. Recently, we’ve learned that a severe dental issue leftover from Syria has put his smile at risk by causing him excruciating, increasing pain. We’re raising the funds needed to cover the procedure he needs, and help him find a pain-free smile to match his resilient spirit.

More details below:

We met our friend Wafaa about eighteen months ago, right after he arrived with his wife and teenage son in the United States as refugees from Syria. Six years before, Wafaa and his family were forced to leave their longtime home in Aleppo when escalating violence consumed the city, and relocated to a refugee camp in Jordan.

The respect we have for all our friends who stepped out of all that was familiar to find safety is enormous. Wafaa’s story deeply strikes us, though, because Wafaa cannot walk.  As a child, polio left him paralyzed from the waist down, leaving him fully reliant on a wheelchair. Despite unfathomable risk and complications, he led his family out of harm with a will and faith that most of us wouldn’t dare know how to summon.

Now in Tennessee, Wafaa’s electric wheelchair is the only form of transportation the family has, and he’s often seen on sidewalks with his wife, headed to the local market, and waving at friends along the way. What Wafaa is known for, though, in his new neighborhood of Nashville, Tennessee is a joy that is relentless- one that’s caused most folks who meet him to know him as the man with the contagious laugh or the man who can’t stop smiling. His laugh brings new life into a room, and radiates this real light into conversation.

Recently, though, we learned a deep pain from a longstanding dental issue has threatened Wafaa’s sweet smile. After many dentist visits, we know Wafaa needs the remainder of all his teeth extracted, and a set of dentures made. The expense of this process has prohibited him from being able to begin, and he now experiences a constant, intense, and increasing pain. The lowest cost estimate we have been given by a local dentist is $3,000 for the entire procedure ($2,500 for extractions + $500 for dentures). Each extraction is $100, and we will schedule these in a constant manner as funds arrive.

So much of the loss Wafaa and his family have experienced in recent years is irreversible, and far more than anyone would be able to fix. Yet being part of restoring his smile and reducing his pain is entirely possible.

(Other details that may be helpful: We are volunteers with Nashville International Center for Empowerment, the resettlement agency that assisted in Wafaa's arrival and placement in Nashville, Tennessee. We have arranged for all dental services to be performed at Dr. Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center. Funds will paid directly to the Comprehensive Health Center, and any other medical facilities that may be involved. I will be withdrawing the funds personally, and paying the medical facilities on Wafaa's behalf).


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Cayce Pack 
New York, NY
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