In July 2016, Austin welcomed a family of 3 into its community. The husband (63), his wife (53) and their youngest daughter (17) are from Daraa, Syria. Because of the war, the family has been torn apart and their six other children live as refugees in various parts of the world.
While in Syria, this family owned a fiber glass factory and an interior decorating business. They had their own home, a car and two motorbikes. All of their children were put through school and/or university. They lived a good life, but then the war changed everything.
One year into the conflict, after the family had already fled the violence, the husband returned to Daraa to guard the family's home and possessions. It was 3 a.m. when a rocket came through the roof of the house and exploded near his bed. By a stroke of fate, he narrowly escaped with his life thanks to the heroism of his neighbors, who pulled him from the rubble and drove him all the way to Jordan for medical treatment. Doctors managed to save his leg, but he is left handicapped with one leg 6 inches shorter than the other. He has not been back to Syria since that night and has no idea what has become of their home.
The husband was later reunited with his wife and daughter in Irbid, Jordan. They survived off of their savings for four years, until the UN asked if they would be interested in immigrating to the United States through the refugee resettlement program. The process took over a year and half and consisted of multiple interviews. Finally, in summer 2016 their application was approved and they made the journey to Austin.
The husband's medical disability prevents him from being able to work. But his wife is different. Despite being 53 years old, having only a 7th grade education, possessing few skills and speaking zero English, she is determined to become a wage earner. After months of searching, she has finally managed to find a part-time job, but it is still not enough.
The daughter is a freshman student at Lanier High School. Her largest challenge is learning English, especially so that she may excel in school. Even so, she is excelling with a grade of 90% in Algebra and Art. She hopes to go to college and pursue a career in writing so that one day she can record her family’s story.
Taking all of this into consideration, the family’s greatest needs are for affordable housing, ESL classes, and training in skilled work. They also struggle greatly with transportation.
Their U.S. resettlement package money recently ended, so the family has to fend for themselves going forward. With only one working parent in an unskilled job, in addition to the high cost of rent, this family is not quite at the stage of financial stability. SARA is helping them search for subsidized housing, but the wait list is long and it could take up to 6 months. As an organization, SARA is appealing to the wider community for sponsors willing to assist this family with their rent or utilities bill for a temporary period of time, until they are able to get on their feet.