Rima, a pharmacist, and Osama, an orthodontist had established professional practices. Each had foregone international employment offers and stayed in their city of Al-Suqaylabiyah, north-west of Damascus. They remained four years after war broke out in 2011; until it became too dangerous to stay.
They sought refuge in European countries, without success. Then in 2016, they learnt of Australia’s program for Syrian refugees and were accepted. Coming from the ancient culture of Syria they knew little about Australia.
…we heard lots of ‘it’s a new country, they haven't that tradition or history’. But after we are here…we feel it's an ancient country, because we touched the spirit of Australian people.
Welcomed by their local community, Rima and Osama have found great support through their new church. They find schooling here is quite different, with better facilities and less homework. Their two boys now feel safe.
Their greatest challenge is to attain professional accreditation. The difficulty is not in demonstrating their knowledge, but in learning and understanding Australian laws and professional practise. Osama would like to undertake an internship that would introduce him to patient care in his profession in Australia.
They remain fearful for friends still in Syria and concerned for the future of their homeland. They asked that we display images showing the beauty of Syria to challenge the limited view presented in the daily news.
The new church, Al Suqaylabiyah, Syria, 2017
Reproduced coutesy of Humam Arraj
There's more to this story:
Yasser and his family were in the last government-controlled part of Syria and remained in Aleppo, under bombardment, for two years. In 2016 they were granted refugee status in Australia.
Abdulmaseeh’s life changed forever on 6 August 2014, when Islamic State (IS) invaded his city of Qaraqosh, Iraq. The entire Syriac Christian population, over 120,000 people, fled to nearby Kurdistan.
Reviewed 24 April 2023