In the News / June 2016

First Syrian family in Iowa starts new life with help from USCRI

Topic /

Syrian Fam Detroit


KCCI Des Moines article

June 23, 2016

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants has a field office in Des Moines, and is treating the Syrian refugees like any other refugees, by setting up an apartment and helping them settle in.

The Tameem family from Syria sat through a class with 60 immigrants from Thailand, Nepal, Malysia, Kenya and Somalia to learn the ropes in Iowa.

“When you come to the city seeking services, they cannot treat you differently based on your immigrant status,” said Joshua Barr, of the Des Moines Civil & Human Rights Commission.

Abdul and Ghazwah Tameem fled Syria to protect their five young children from bombs, Islamic State group attacks and the ravages of war. They waited two years in Jordan for a new life in the heartland.
“The people nice,” Abdul Fattah Tameem said. “They treat us very well and we like that. We are very happy here.”

They arrived with little more than the clothes on their backs, so the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants arranged an apartment for them.

“We start helping them get connected to school, to (English as a Second Language) classes. We take them to the doctor. We make sure they know how to go shopping (and) eventually we’ll help them start to look for jobs,” said Carly Ross, of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.

“We are very appreciative of the help we get here,” Abdul Fattah Tameem said. “They help us with everything.”

Ross hopes Iowans will greet all refugees with open arms, especially the Syrians she says have been vetted through a strict screening process.

“These are people who have no other options, and they’re really just looking for a chance to live in a safe place, to start a new home and to raise their families and to be productive members of society just like anyone else,” Ross said.

Learn more about the work of USCRI Des Moines by clicking here

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