Syrian refugee finds new life in Chico

Nov 18, 2015 9:54 PM by Mega Sugianto

"It was utter devastation, destruction, there was no way to live." That’s how refugee Tareq, 25, describes living in Syria. He fled his home in Homs for Jordan. He now lives in Chico.

"The life in Jordan wasn't very good, but it was much worse back home in Syria," said Tareq.

He explained how he snuck into Jordan. "I went from Derra and from there to the border," said Tareq. "It took me over five hours to walk across the border."

After registering as a refugee with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Tareq received a call asking if he would be interested in resettling in another country.

Tareq said he had many meetings at the UNHCR . "After my third interview I was told my file would be sent to the American embassy." He then spent more than a year interviewing at the U.S. Embassy in Jordan.

"I was just lucky they chose me," Tareq said.

Tareq arrived to California about nine months ago. "It was at one time just a dream, but it came true."

World Relief Sacramento Director, Kirt Lewis said three million refugees have been resettled in the United States since 1980, and roughly 800,000 since September 11, 2001.

Lewis said once a refugee is granted permission, they are able to obtain legal residence and status. He adds more than 200 Syrian refugees have entered California this year.

"Almost all of the people who have left Syria and become refugees are escaping the atrocities being committed by Bashar Al Assad," said Tareq.

Tareq adds, "You can't judge an entire people because of one person’s actions. We are Syrians, we are good people."

Tareq said some of his family members are still in Jordan and Syria.

"The situation in Syria is very bad," said Tareq. "There is no safety at all."

Having lived in Chico for several months, Tareq said he is adjusting well.

"I feel like I'm treated like a citizen, I have rights."

Prior to fleeing Jordan, Tareq said he was a businessman, owned homes and an antique shop.

"Now I am here in America," said Tareq. "I'm starting a new life."

Tareq said his goal is to start a business like the one in Syria and learn English.

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