“It’s utter and pure luck,” says Karen Ferguson, executive director of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), speaking about the Al Hamad family who after fleeing violence in their home-country of Syria, lived for three years in a refugee camp, and only just recently were able to emigrate to the small rural town of Turlock, California. The family is among the few the United States has accepted since the war began in 2011, which is only about 1,500 refugees.
Neighbor Amen Echek remembers seeing the family when they first came to the local mosque. “Each family member brought in something, contributed something,” says Echek.. “They’re lonely. They don’t know anybody around here. They don’t have the language. Nothing.”
The Muslim community has embraced the family and donated furniture, food, and even a wide-screen television. Welcome to America, indeed.