In response to Trump’s Travel Ban, the ‘Real New York Tours’ has just offered a week of free walking tours for 150 Syrian refugees who have recently resettled in New Jersey. The guests were chosen by the state chapter of ICNA Relief, a Muslim-American social services charity, and a GoFundMe campaign has raised $3,935 to help defray costs of the tour.
The founder of the tour, Luke Miller, says that he and his wife originally had the idea to provide free tours in the days after Trump’s first executive order halting the resettlement of Syrian refugees and banning travelers from a group of Muslim-majority countries. “We wanted to do something to counteract this,” he recounted. “So we said, ‘Let’s do what we’re good at.’”
All five families who participated in last week’s tour had fled the ongoing war in Syria. They spent nearly three years going through security and health screenings before being relocated by the International Rescue Committee.
It was most, if not all, of their first times in Manhattan. “I feel like all the negativity is melting away,” Rihab Taki, a 33-year-old mother of four, said through a translator. “I am discovering another side of America, not like Elizabeth,” echoes her sister.
As for the tour itself, in the morning they visited Times Square and then took a subway to Central Park were the children visited the zoo and rode the carousel which was notably restored in 2010 by our now President Trump. “We see some poetic justice in it,” said tour guide Shawn Lynch.
The tour clearly inspired the adults in the group. “I learned I should never stay home,” Rihab Taki said. “I should go out and explore.”