In the News / November 2016

The first Syrian family in Iowa settles into their new home

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Read the full article in TIME here.  Article and Photo Credit: Danny Wilcox Frazier – VII for TIME.

“Ghazweh, Abdul Fattah and their five children are refugees from the war in Syria and were the first Syrian family to be resettled by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in Des Moines, Iowa.

Their hometown of Homs has seen some of the most devastating bombing of the war. Survival there seemed impossible so Ghazweh and Abdul Fattah took their children and escaped. The fighting followed them from city to city over the next two years while they moved around as internally displaced people in Syria. Left with no option, the family sought safety in Jordan and finally in Iowa, a Midwestern state with a history of welcoming refugees.

Yet, the transition for the Tameem family has not been easy. Iowa’s urban areas are not known for efficient public transportation and Abdul Fattah’s commute to work at a West Des Moines hotel takes hours … He shows me photographs of Homs, which before the war was the third-largest city in Syria. Abdul Fattah was raised there, and he speaks of his home with pride. He dreams of one day returning and rebuilding, though for now, he says, “the only positive thing is my kids are safe, this is essential.”

… Ghazweh is clear in her desire to raise her family in the U.S. Her eyes light up when she considers her dreams of a future here. “I want my kids to learn English. I want them to have American friends and stay with Americans,” Ghazweh tells me.

For several days while on this assignment, I ate and drank coffee with Ghazweh and Abdul Fattah, their hospitality a reminder of the many kitchens around the world I have been invited into …

While sitting at the family’s dining room table I thought maybe Iowa’s Governor could take the time to share a meal with Ghazweh and Abdul Fattah and their children. Gov. Branstad could learn first hand the love these parents have for their kids and better understand the sacrifices they have endured.”

Learn more about USCRI Des Moines here.

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