TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – So far this year, 41 Syrian refugees arrived in Tampa Bay. Last year, there were none. President Barack Obama has until September 30 to decide how many more refugees will be allowed in the U.S. in the future. No doubt, there will be more refugees from Syria.
Mohamed Aljajea, his wife Lobana, and their four children, Zafer, Falak, Omar, and Yihia, are from Hama, Syria’s fourth largest city. They fled the home they owned two years ago, because of civil war.
“The situation became very bad and got worse. More gun shots. The fighting became more and more. More death, hunger, poverty, and life became miserable,” he explained.
“The streets are not safe and the school is not safe. We would not let them out,” said Lobana.
The family fled to Amman, Jordan, and stayed for two years, living with family and in a one-bedroom apartment. While waiting for refugee status, ISIS began terrorizing their homeland as well. This recent fighting is why so many Syrians are now fleeing to Europe.
“These people did not leave their homes, they did not leave their properties and all what they own to come here because they want to come here. They were forced,” said Amira Salama, executive director of Coptic Orthodox Charities.
Salama has 90 days to get the family on their feet. Right now the charity is paying their rent. But after three months, the family will be responsible for it and utilities.
The kids are going to school, and the parents will enroll in English classes. Lobana will have to get a job.
“I am not educated, I never worked, all what I know is clearing my house and taking care of my children,” she explained.
Mohamed survived polio as a child, and has an arm and hand injury from a car accident. He will try to get disability benefits.
Coptic Orthodox Charities is giving them donations, including a television, and their first bikes. Neighborhood kids are teaching them how to ride.
Mohamed keeps up with family in Syria online. He is worried about them. And wishes all Syrians would get an opportunity to live in peace, like his family. But even if peace comes to Syria, he doesn’t plan to moving back. Tampa is their home.