Refugee family from Syria finds home and help in Brooklyn

- Conflicts around the world are forcing people to abandon their homes and countries, leaving with almost nothing. A special program helps them get back on their feet.

The Kanj family is from Syria. After years of trying to get into the United States, they finally arrived in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, on April 5, 2017.

In 2012, Sadika Hakki, a single mother of three, decided to flee Syria, a country torn apart by civil war.

Her son Shirwan Kanj attended a university in Aleppo. He and other students started to peacefully protest against the oppressive regime. Shirwan said a group came to the university and beat him up, demanding the names of those who participated in the protest.

Fearing for Shirwan's life, the family fled to Turkey. Upon their arrival, they immediately applied for political asylum in the United States but it took years. For about four years, the family lived and worked in Turkey, slowly losing hope they would ever be approved to migrate to America.

When President Donald Trump made an executive order to ban travelers from seven majority-Muslim counties including Syria, they worried they would never be able to come.

But then their migration was approved and they came to America. Sadika said she is so happy to be in the United States and that her kids are safe.

They arrived in Brooklyn with nothing. Luckily, the Arab American Family Support Center lend them a hand. The center's Ahmed Mohammed said the group's new-immigrant fund helps families pay their airfare.

Mohammed said refuges have three years to pay back their airfare to the State Department. The Kanj family owed about $4,000. But most of it has been paid off.

The center is currently helping 25 families, about 125 individuals, from Syria and Iraq. Mohammed said many people don't realize that immigrants and refugees who come to America already have debts. The center is trying to raise more money to help families who arrive.

To help refugee families, you can donate to the Arab American Family Support Center at aafscny.org.

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