I write a lot about the Bedoon issue and do my darndest to help. It is an issue that I strongly believe in helping to resolve to end the suffering of this group of people.
My personal experience with the Bedoon began when I met Hilal Al-Shammari (and Shammari can be spelled many different ways in English: Shemmari, Shimari, Shimmeri, etc. They are all part of the Shamar tribe). Hilal was a big, sweet man who reminded me of a gentle teddy bear. I had just arrived in Kuwait.
My friend, Salah, from Florida (who I knew in the US) helped me ship my car to Kuwait and Hilal was helping me out on the receiving end. Salah was formerly Bedoon, but with the help of someone in the US, had gotten US citizenship. His two brothers were in Australia getting citizenship. Their cousins and other family members have Kuwaiti nationality. They tore up their travel documents in-flight and flushed them down the toilet in order to get political assylum when they arrived in Australia. This was years ago and the laws have changed a lot since. Now, the brothers would probably be returned to Kuwait where they would spend an unspecified amount of time in the deportation center if not jail.
Salah arrived in Kuwait and we started hanging out with Hilal. Those were the days when the "family sections" in restaurants and cafe-tents were a lot more common. Salah and the gang invited me to many dinners before I wised up and figured out that they were having me go with them just to gain access to the females on the family side! (A "crime" that did not go unpunished by me later.)
So, we became friends and Hilal and I got closer. We started going out to eat and shopping together (in the days before Al Kout mall was there). He helped me fix things in my new apartment and took my car to get serviced/fixed when it needed it.
I had my eye on a beautiful piece of art; an antique wood carving cut from a single piece of wood in intricate designs of birds and foliage. I looked at it for months and Hilal finally went down and bought it for me. It still hangs on my wall.
I eventually met most of Hilal's family. He introduced me to his mother and from behind her niqab, I could see that she wasn't terribly pleased. Hilal wasn't concerned at all.
Unfortunately, Hilal's feelings for me were not returned. I cared about him, but more like a brother and friend. We cut most ties soon after he started talking about marriage. We still talked on the phone, but that was about it. Salah talked to Hilal and said something to the effect that I was "out of his league" (which is not true and I felt bad). It all had to do with feelings.
Months passed and I went on to do other things. One night, he called me and sounded very upset. He wanted to come over to talk. When he arrived, he was visibly shaken and started sobbing. I couldn't understand everything that he said. I tried to get him to calm down, but he said he had to leave. I told him I would always be there for him 24/7 if he needed me. I called later, but no answer.
That was the last time I ever saw him.
About a month later, I was somewhere and saw a mutual acquaintance. I asked about Hilal. The man's answer was, "He's dead. And he owes me money." I thought it was a joke. Who could be so incredibly cruel? I called one of Hilal's friends (a business partner) here in Kuwait who said that it was true, but told me that he had died of a heart attack (trying to soften the blow for me, I suppose). Hilal was only in his 30's. I still didn't believe the story. I called Salah.
Salah related a story that I wish wasn't true. Hilal had gotten involved with drugs and had spent most of the money he had accumulated with his long-time friends in business partnership. He felt desperate and (I assume) decided that suicide was the only way out. One night, he stopped his car on an street overpass, left his wallet and keys in the car, and jumped.
Hilal was Bedoon. One of his business partners was an older Kuwaiti man (a very good man who is well-known in Kuwait for his former soccer career) who had known him since Hilal was 10 years old. The man tried to help him establish a business and get a better life. My assumption is that when Hilal lost the money to drugs, he felt ashamed and confused. I know - people will say that he didn't have to kill himself and it goes against God and all that; and it does. However, I can't imagine the desperation he must have felt in feeling that he had no other choice.
I blamed myself for a long time not being a better friend or for not handling my relationship with him better. But the reality is that there was nothing I could have done. It was a horrible period of my life (I found out about Shamlan's death within months of Hilal's so it was a very dark time for me - come to think of it, around this time of the year).
I remember Hilal all the time. I look at my wall art and see him smiling. I see an older model Jeep and see him. I drive around town to places where we used to go and I see him. [Sadly, I remember him when I see an overpass.] And I remember him when I meet other Bedoon people who are ashamed to tell me that they are Bedoon. I always wonder about their situations and if there is some way that I can help.
...And I take it very personally.