Updated 04/05/2009 09:16 AM
Many turn to religion for comfort
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- The American Civic Association in Binghamton serves as a haven for many immigrants and refugees. They were here to start a new life, a better life. But on the morning of April 3rd, their American Dream came to an end.
"They didn't even get a chance to attempt to fulfill their dream or goal in the United States, so that really broke my heart," said Kyung-Won Song, Senior Pastor at Korean Baptist Church.
"These are the families where they come from the places where their life got very, very difficult because of the war and constant daily conflict and violence. They came here to find peace," said Kasim Kopuz, Islamic Organization of the Southern Tier Imam.
Two women from the Islamic Organization were inside the building when the gunman entered. Leila Khalil, a Kurdish refugee, came to Binghamton less than two years ago. Her husband received a phone
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call Friday night from police confirming the dreaded news.
Perveen Ali emigrated from Pakistan six to eight years ago. Her brother was with her at the time. He was able to get out and when he went to look for Perveen, he didn't see her name on either the injured or the survivor list.
"She was sort of keeping the family together,” said Ehtisham Siddiqui, President of the Islamic Organization of the Southern Tier. “She was doing jobs to bring in money but more than that, she was really a steady hand and took care of her brothers and her mother."
A member of the Korean Baptist Church in Vestal was among the injured. The senior pastor declined to give her name, but says she was a foreign student's wife and suffered five to six gunshot wounds. Amazingly, it seems she'll make a full recovery. The pastor says he visited her at the hospital.
"She was quite frightened, because she witnessed a lot of her friends just dying and bleeding. So she kept crying," Song said.
All that's left for this anguished community now is to share in the grief and pain.
"We feel for all of the victims. We're going to have prayers all day. And our heart goes out to all the families," Siddiqui said.
"We need to realize that we're not islands. To prevent something like this in the future not only from Binghamton, but for all over the world, we really need to share our love and support and care, encouragement and that takes a lot of prayer," said Song.