Syrian refugees say ‘thank you’ to Charlotte

The Hariri children open boxes from Observer readers Thursday night.
The Hariri children open boxes from Observer readers Thursday night. Taylor Batten

A quick update on the family of Syrian refugees who moved to Charlotte late last year.

I wrote about the Hariri family in November. The Hariris and their five children had moved to Charlotte a couple of weeks before, the first and only Syrian refugee family in the city. I told their story as Gov. Pat McCrory was calling for at least a temporary ban on Syrian refugees in North Carolina.

I told about the horror they had lived through and their long and painful road to America. That included the government’s killing of Abdul Razak Hariri’s brother, he said, and the bombing of his home.

Observer readers responded with compassion and caring. Throughout December, you donated money, clothes, art supplies, books, blankets and other gifts.

Thursday night, I was finally able to deliver all your generosity to the family. Abdul, the father, has gotten a job as a carpenter from a Charlotte-area man who read the column. The three older children are in school and adapting quickly. They spoke not a word of English when I met them in November. Now they are rapidly learning, giving me a “hello,” and saying “yes” and “no” to my questions.

They opened your boxes Thursday night, their eyes twinkling as they rifled through the art supplies, the candy, the stuffed animals, the coats and shirts and pants.

Then the 8-year-old, the 6-year-old twins and the 4-year-old each approached me, extended their hand, smiled and said “Thank you.”

I wish you could have been there. – Taylor Batten