North Carolina is one of the most active states with regards to resettling Syrian refugees. In Greensboro—my hometown—my parents, along with other volunteers and resettlement programs, helped the state’s second Syrian family establish their new, safe home. The story of the Al Haj Kasem family is inspiring, and is becoming more and more common as increasing numbers of families have the opportunity to seek refuge in the United States. But without the help from members of local communities, such opportunities would be impossible. Getting to the U.S. is only the first step; the next and hardest step is starting a new life.
Therefore it is crucial to recognize that any effort to assist Syrians fleeing from their homeland must be a collaborative one. My parents could not have settled the seven members of the Al Haj Kasem family on their own; it was because of other members of the community who were willing to help that the transition was a success.
However, I realize that being a part of process and getting to spend time with the family gives me insight that most Americans don’t have. Many people might be hesitant about the idea of helping settle a large family from a country they might not have heard of before recent stories on the news; the culture is different, the language is different, and I get it—different is hard to accept. But these people like the Al Haj Kasems need help, as you would too if you were in their shoes.
But luckily for us, as citizens of the United States of America, we don’t have to fear our government for the sake of our lives. Instead we have freedom, and plenty of it—enough to share with those who have left everything behind to find it.