January 5, 2017

THE FACE OF ISLAM:

In Toledo, Syrian Refugees Are Welcomed Amid A Difficult Immigration Climate (Ari Shapiro, 
January 4, 2017, All Things Considered)

Last year, NPR's Ari Shapiro visited Toledo, Ohio, to talk to refugees settling there from Syria's civil war. Recently, he returned to Toledo to check in on the community.

When we first met Omar Al-Awad and his family in the fall of 2015, they were among the newest refugee families from Syria settling in to life in Toledo, Ohio.

Back then, Awad was attending his first English class at a local church and couldn't say much more than his name. Today he's able to haltingly conduct a basic conversation in English.

He and his wife, Hiyam, also had a fourth baby -- a boy, Salman, who just turned 1 and is a full-fledged American citizen. The other kids -- Taiba, 5, Abdul-Jabar, 7, and Hammam, 10 -- are now practically fluent in English.

But Hiyam says overall, this first year in the U.S. was tough.

"We came to a country that is not our country, and everything changed on us: the system, the people the area, the city," she says in Arabic.

Though her husband is trained as a carpenter, for now he is working on a hospital cleaning crew. He says he is happy to be working. But what gives him the most pride is watching his kids flourish in school. Two of his children were just named student of the month. He was so proud he went out and bought them new toys.

Awad has come a long way, too. No longer the newest refugee, he now helps the new ones.

"I go with them to pay bills. There are days I take them to the doctor, bring them stuff from the store," he says in Arabic. [...]

Awad feels lucky to have made it to the U.S. while the door was still open a crack.

"Anyone that is able to get out of these countries -- whether it's Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey -- of course the situation is better here than to be there," he says.

Posted by at January 5, 2017 8:19 AM

  

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