FARMINGTON HILLS — About 300 people gathered in the Farmington Hills Manor last week as Iraq's ambassador to the U.S. Samir Sumaida'ie keynoted a first annual fundraising gala for local charity For Victims of War and Poverty, founded by pharmacist Nidhal Garmo.
Iraqi ambassador to the U.S. Samir Sumaida’ie PHOTO: Jessica Barrow
Garmo founded For Victims of War and Poverty in 2008, but her efforts to help those in need began in 1992, when she began sending medicine, money and other donations to families that she knew needed help. Garmo traveled to Iraq six times and she says that working with the organization World Medical Relief is what turned her dream of helping into reality.
"All this would not be possible without them," Garmo said.
Rita Grezlik, President and CEO of World Medical Relief and Georges Sampson, Director of International Programs, received awards at the gala for their efforts, along with the ambassador.
The ambassador stressed the work of non-governmental agencies as the real key to bringing relief to war-torn nations. He said governments can't do it alone.
"The government is doing all it can," he said, "but the demand is so big that we really need everybody.
"We have grown to ask why those in the government do this or that. The question we ask is 'where is the government?' The question which we must ask is 'What can I do? What can we do?'"
Nidhal Garmo, founder of aid group For Victims of War
"These are the real heroes in Iraq," he said.
Awards were presented to the ambassador for economic excellence, and to Grezlik and Sampson for their humanitarian efforts. Samir Johna, founder and medical director of the Assyrian Medical Society, also received an award.
Garmo said the gala was just the beginning for the organization. She plans to open an orphanage in Iraq and possibly a cancer hospital.
"I wish this endeavor and all similar endeavors real success," said Sumaida'ie, "because it represents the real hope for rebuilding our country."