The plight of Syria, a country now in midst of a bloody civil war, has given way to a refugee crisis which has resulted in several fortunate Syrian families landing in Oakland, California.
The Al-Nukta and Rawas families are among the lucky few who escaped the carnage of their now-leveled Syrian hometowns and survived the brutal journey, ultimately to land in the Golden State. Over 220,000 people have lost their lives in Syria so far–higher, by some estimates.
The San Francisco Chronicle interviewed both men and their families. Mohamad Suheel Al-Nukta, 34, and his family are among a little more than 100 Syrian refugees who arrived in California between October 2014 and August of this year seeking a safe haven and a fresh start, writes the Chronicle.
Al-Nukta lives in a one-bedroom apartment with his wife and two young daughters who are six and seven-years-old; a familiar story for refugees seeking a fresh start. Al-Nukta reportedly has a friend in the the Bay Area, while the Rawas family had no prior connections there.
Mohammad Rawas, 47, was resettled in the Bay Area just this year with his wife and three children, aged 10, 13 and 17. Back in Syria he ran a sewing factory in a Damascus suburb where he had 30 employees working for him and his own home in the scenic countryside.
Now, Rawas reportedly works in clothing alterations in Berkeley six days a week, and his family receives food stamps. The Chronicle notes that he was layed off earlier this summer which forced his family to rely briefly on donations from a local mosque in order to make their rent.
Now in Oakland, Al-Nukta is reportedly actively searching for a job while taking English language classes. His family reportedly relies on government financial assistance, including food stamps. The Chronicle notes that they have also received support from Syrian and Muslim Americans in the community.
Both families’ children are enrolled in Oakland public schools.