Picture a family with four children that includes two school-aged, a three year old with significant special medical needs, and an infant. Already, you know these parents have their hands full. Now imagine this is your family. You are managing the daily needs and special challenges of raising your family when war breaks out and your home is in the crossfire. It becomes too dangerous to send your children to school. It becomes too dangerous to take your child to the hospital for critical health care. Your house is bombed, friends die, and even going out to find food seems too great a risk.
Those are the harrowing circumstances surrounding Dareen and Ahmed’s family in their home country of Syria. The family experienced significant trauma as they fled to safety with only their children in their arms. After first spending time in a refugee camp in Egypt, they were eventually resettled in Charlottesville. They arrived with no financial resources, no English, and no familiarity with American systems like school, healthcare, or social services.
One of the family’s top concerns was getting necessary medical attention for their daughter Hajer, born with serious congenital anomalies/spinal malformation. They were referred to CHiP by the IRC (International Rescue Committee), and the CHiP team worked with the family to navigate the health care system, enroll the children in school, and connect them with community resources. While Dareen and Ahmed were thankful to have CHiP support, CHiP staff were inspired by this family’s astounding resilience and unflagging optimism.
In just a few short years, they have accomplished some big goals: finding work, learning English, and buying a home. The children – Reham, Laila, Hajer, and Saeed are cheerful, healthy, and doing well in school, and the family is active and contributing to the life of our community through their mosque, and volunteering at school and community events. We are proud to have them as neighbors and to be part of their amazing journey.