"The government, under President Bashar al-Assad, had cracked down on the rebellious city, religious sects were at war with one another, and the deadly mix of bombings, snipers and random violence forced many residents indoors. Ms. Hammadeh was afraid to leave their home to shop for fresh food. On some days, the family resorted to eating moldy bread.
The couple’s sons, Soubei and Ahmad, now 19 and 18, were then in their early teens, and their parents began to fear they would be kidnapped.
“We got scared,” Ms. Hammadeh said. “The government would see kids on the street and take them, beat them. We didn’t want them to kidnap our children.”"
On their first morning in their new Michigan apartment, they marveled at the lawns and trees. “We didn’t walk around because we were afraid we would get lost,” Mr. Mughrbel said. “So we just looked out the window.”
“When I saw all the grass,” said Ms. Hammadeh, 43, her large eyes widening, “I felt that I was reborn.”
Many established Syrians have formed volunteer organizations to assist in the resettlement process; supplied the refugees with furniture, clothing and food; and procured apartments, often at a discounted rent.
“We’re trying to help them find their way once they are here,” said Mahmoud Altattan, 65, the owner of Altas Greenfield Market, an emporium of produce, jarred olives, nuts and pita breads in Southfield, a Detroit suburb. “They have some difficulty adjusting at first. We try to put them on the right path.”
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