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Everything is New: One Refugee Family’s Adjustment after Eight Months in Chicago

Originally from Syria, Yaser, Mervat, and their three kids came to Chicago eight months ago after fleeing their country and spending years as refugees in Jordan. With your support, our team walked with the family through their initial adjustment in the areas of housing, employment, education for their kids, and more. Much remains in their path to rebuild a sense of belonging, but today we pause to hear a small part of their story shared during a visit to their home and celebrate what’s been accomplished so far and what lies ahead.

WR: Can you share a bit about yourself and your history
YASER: We used to live in Aleppo, Syria. For almost 30 years, I did high-end carpentry, masonry, finish work, and design for houses, offices, and hotels. We joined my parents when we arrived in Chicago eight months ago. It had been 8 years since I saw them. When I saw them at the airport, I was full of happiness. My wife’s family is in Great Britian, and she wishes she could see them too. 
WR: What have the last eight months been like as your family adjusts?  
MERVAT: This past year wasn’t easy for us. It’s a totally new life, we’ve been adjusting. Everything is new for us and for our kids. New school, environment, new country. We’re trying our best to adjust.  
WR: Could you tell us about your kids?  
MERVAT: Our daughter Raghad – her name means “prosperity”— wants to be an interior designer. We’re encouraging her in her studies.  

Our oldest is Dalaa – her name means something like “pampered” in English. She wants to be a nurse and she’s studying hard. World Relief helped enroll both the girls at Truman college this fall.

Our son Karam’s name means “generosity.” He’s 11 years old, and he’s doing his best at school. He wants to join a soccer team. He doesn’t have too many friends. He plays video games, and we want to keep him busy, so we bought him a punching bag to practice boxing. 
WR: What are some of your hopes for the future? 
YASER: The job I’m doing now is not my profession. I’m doing it to pay the rent and try to cover our expenses. I bought a car and now it takes me about twelve minutes to drive to the job. I hope to rebuild a business like I had before in the US someday. To build a reputation and be sought-after for my services.  

Conflict and displacement issues continue to surge across the globe. In 2024 we anticipate serving a record number of refugees and asylum seekers in Chicagoland. Donate today and be part of creating change that lasts for families like Yaser, Mervat, Dalaa, Raghad, and Karam.

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