Syrian families make new start in Houston

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Imagine leaving everything and everyone you know behind.  Now imagine it’s because your country is war-torn, and you’ve been tortured by a brutal regime.  That is the reality for many Syrian families who are here in Houston, including the one who spoke to Fox 26, under the promise of anonymity.  Relatives back home could be killed, they said, if they were shown talking to media.  

The father’s interpreter explains “he was actually captured by the Assad regime, they tortured him by electricity through shocks and physical pain, with the skin and other sorts of torture.”  He showed us marks all over his body that have left the former chef disabled.  He still has hopes of opening a restaurant in Houston, one day.  They did not break his spirit. 

His accounts of torture include having a kidney removed, with no anesthesia, and having his 6 year old son’s arm broken. 

“They broke his arm to the point where his arm isn't fixed completely," he said. The boy is now 10.

Through the interpreter, he tells us he wishes to one day see his mother again.  She is still alive, living just outside of Damascus.  But for a man who has seen loved ones murdered, he knows this wish may not come true.  His mother wasn’t able to obtain refugee status.  “I could only get it for myself, my wife, and our three children, not my mother.”  Tears fill his eyes. 

His family includes 3 children under age 12, and a wife expecting a baby next month.  After fleeing to Egypt in 2012, they finally made it to Houston in January of 2015.  The YMCA assisted in their resettlement.  The kids are doing well.  Their parents, grateful to be in America.

Amaanah Refugee services is helping them with basic needs.  Ahmad Alaswad says the group works to provide “monetary support, rental assistance, bill assistance, we also do in-kind support so furniture and also clothing.  We have an in-kind store where they can go and shop for free, and it's a more dignified way to receive free clothing.”   The group is asking Houstonians who are able to help to reach out to them.  They step in and meet needs that are left unaddressed once a family has been resettled. 

The YMCA is also accepting donations.  “Gently-used clothing that you might take to Goodwill or the Salvation Army is something we are collecting,” said a spokesperson.