by: Seth and Andy, with help from Catrina Gregory
Mona, her husband Jehad, and their 6 children left Dara’a, Syria, in early 2014. The war had been going on for some time, but they had tried to hold on, hoping things things would get better. As more and more of their neighbors were being killed they were able to make it into Jordan just before the border with Syria was closed.
When the family arrived in Jordan they spent a few days at the Zataari refugee camp. At that time, the camps were really scary places, especially with small children, so they left and found a place to stay in the town of Marqa. Jehad also found some work in the area, though his job was illegal as Syrians are not allowed to work in Jordan.
Over the course of the following year the places where Jehad worked were raided numerous times, eventually resulting in the Jordanian police threatening to send Mona’s family back to Syria. With few remaining options, Jehad left Jordan, along with his 2 brothers-in-law, to make his way to Europe. They were all forced to leave their families behind as they couldn’t afford to bring everyone. After a flight to Turkey, boat trips, lots of walking, and a short stay in a Hungarian detention center, Jehad finally made it to Sweden.
Jehad then lived in a Swedish refugee camp, going through the process of applying for visas to bring his family to join him. Mona, in the meantime, was getting by as best she could in a small, barely furnished apartment, reliant on the kindness of a few determined friends who banded together strangers on the internet to help pay for living expenses for her and the kids (Zainab, 14, Mohammad, 12, Ibrahim, 10, Asmaa, 8, Rusul, 5 and Arak, 3). She lived down the hall from the families of her sisters-in-law so that they could better pool their very minimal resources. Jordanian law allowed the kids to go to school, where Zainab was at the top of her class, but they were bullied regularly for being “orphans” (since their father was gone) as well as for being Syrians
In late August of this year, Mona had her interview at the Swedish Embassy in Amman, and miraculously the family had their family reunion visas just a few days later! Unfortunately, as the family was living on just a few hundred dollars a month in total, the $400 per person flights to Sweden seemed out of reach.
Mona’s friends in Amman, some of whom are affiliated with the Collateral Repair Project, quickly reached out through their Facebook networks for help, and their story reached our friends at The Syria Fund. Lexi at The Syria Fund then reached out to Miles4Migrants, and we quickly notified our networks (as we had no current pledges large enough to cover the flights) to see if there was any way we could help this family of 7 reunite with their father in Sweden as quickly as possible. We found 2 donors (Alex Helin and one who wishes to remain anonymous) and an available flight for 7 people from Amman to Stockholm, and Mona and her children were able to fly from Jordan to Sweden and reunite with Jehad only a few short hours ago.
Miles4Migrants would like to give our best wishes to the entire family, as well as our sincere hopes that being together again in safety allows Zainab, Mohammad, Ibrahim, Asmaa, Rusul and Arak to flourish as they most richly deserve.
Below are pictures of the kids on a shopping trip before they left Amman, getting their first new clothes in several years thanks to our friends at The Syria Fund.