Life was peaceful and simple in Aleppo for Fadia and her family. Her father sold sweets on a cart. Her mother helped with the preparations. She and her three siblings went to school. They may not have had much, but they were happy.
Then the war broke out in 2011. The children could no longer go to school. The neighborhoods were not safe to sell desserts. And Aleppo, one of the oldest settlements in human history, was about to become an inferno of violent confrontations.
Going to Jordan Fadia’s father saw the incoming doom and moved the family to Jordan. There, the cost of living was high, and getting through the day was not as seamless as it was in Syria despite the welcoming and hospitable nature of the Jordanian people.
Still, the family pushed on, working day and night to prepare the sweets and sell them, while the children enrolled in schools. But the misfortune that they escaped in Syria followed them to Jordan.
One day in 2013, Fadia’s father left for his long shift on the dessert cart, but he never came back. He was hit by a car and killed. He was the main breadwinner for the displaced family.
Thereafter, the mother started cleaning homes to support the family. Despite the stigma of being a domestic worker, she would always say: “There is no shame in work.”
Fadia told the Yemeni American News: “I consider my mother my first role model.”
Amid all the hardships, an opportunity to come to the US presented itself to Fadia and her family through the United Nations’ refugee agency UNHCR. They arrived to New York in 2016.
Fadia’s struggles and eagerness to live and pursue education embody the American refugee story.
After all a poem on the Statue of Liberty says: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
‘Future will be bright’
Refugees are people like Fadia and her family, forced to leave their home by circumstances outside the realm of their control. They turn to America because of its reputation as a home to those seeking a better life. They mean no harm, regardless of their faith or national origin. And they certainly should not be banned or stigmatized.
The Syrian war has produced millions of refugees, but only 62 displaced Syrians were allowed into the US in the last fiscal year.
Fadia says life in the United States was not easy at first, but with the support and generosity of some well-meaning people, she was able to get acclimated to her new surroundings.
She and her family moved to Dearborn where she now works full-time at a restaurant while attending Henry Ford College three days a week.
She wants to eventually work in the medical field.
Fadia is always positive and smiling at work in the restaurant. Her manager Mohammed Abu Sinan praised her hard-work, resilience and positive attitude.
“She has succeeded at her work quickly and managed to learn English fast,” Abu Sinan told YAN. “I know the future will be bright for her and her family.”