Nour: We are from Syria - from Homs. We left Syria during the struggle. We left Syria for Jordan on foot - walking fifteen or sixteen hours between the mountains. It was very dangerous. But we entered Jordan first at the Zaatari refugee camp, and then shortly thereafter found a home. We lived in Jordan for about 4 1/2 years and Lulu was born there.
Then the United Nations asked if we wanted to come to America, so we said yes. First we went to San Mateo – San Francisco and were there for about 2 1/2 months. And then we left San Mateo for Fresno, where we are today. It’s beautiful… We love it. The kids are in school and doing well. Just the youngest – Lulu is not yet in school. My husband is working. And we work to learn English (We go to school a lot, my husband and I). It’s a very good life. It is a new life. A great adventure.
Thafer: She likes adventures [laughs].
Deema: We only lived in the Zaatari camp for like three days – that was it. We could not stay there. There was no water. No roads. So much sand. Very horrible. So much sand. It was Ramadan and we were fasting, but at the end of the day when you could drink water, even the water was so hot you wouldn’t want to drink it. Sometimes the wind would blow so hard the tents would fall on people.
ON THE COURAGE REQUIRED
Basil: We had to make the decision – it wasn’t up to us, we had to do it. We made the trip from Syria to Jordan and from Jordan to the United States to get a better life. And to forget about everything that happened. Of course we don’t forget about our country and the people who are still there.
Nour: We needed a better life for our children. The best education and opportunity for them. We needed a better life for me, for my husband… Because we saw horrible things in Syria. We went through a lot. Our lives are the most valuable things that we as humans have. So we escaped with our family. And made the decision to come here to begin from zero.
Deema: To build new lives
Thafer: America’s a nice country and has good human rights.
Basil: Of course every country has bad things but he hasn’t seen any in America yet.
Thafer: We’ve been around good people - the Islamic Center and Faith in the Valley.
Nour: We’re new here and we don’t know the political problems yet.
Thafer: For me, I look at my neighbors and it is good. My neighborhood is very good. My area is very nice. It is a small community at the Islamic center that is so wonderful. In the church is so nice and helpful. I like it.
Basil: We have friends at school who didn’t know what Ramadan was. They’re not Muslim. But they started fasting with us. They have a lot of Arab friends and they said ‘Well, all of my friends are fasting so why am I not fasting?’ They want to experience what our culture feels like. Some of them even come to the mosque with me and celebrate Iftar.
Basil: We don’t like to rely on plan A – we just let it go. But if we get to create any kind of future that we want, then a good future would look like freedom for Syria. We just want to do our work.
Deema: Here in America if we want to think about the future, then we think about our education. Our family being able to get good jobs. My dad worked in a tahini factory in Syria and he still thinks about that factory.
Nour: He would like to start a factory here.
Thafer: I hope the future is that I can support my family
ON FAITH AND HOPE
Nour: We find hope by standing together - by supporting each other.
Thafer: We love our people. We know America is a good country and God helped us get here. That strengthens our faith. Our faith tells us to have respect for other religions – no matter what it is or where people are from. Would like to build our lives with people’s respect and love. To stand with people from all religions in helping each other.