Taylor Batten

Generosity pours out for Charlotte’s first Syrian refugees

Observer readers want to help Abdul Razak Hariri, Nusyaba Suliman and their children.
Observer readers want to help Abdul Razak Hariri, Nusyaba Suliman and their children. Charlotte Observer

Last Sunday I told the story of Abdul Razak Hariri and his family – and you responded.

Hariri and his wife, Nusyaba Suliman, arrived in Charlotte on Oct. 28 with their five children. They are the first Syrian refugees in Charlotte, having escaped a burned-down house and atrocities all around them in their hometown of Daraa, including the murder of his brother by authorities.

Amid U.S. politicians rushing to block all Syrian refugees from entering the country, Hariri and his wife are just grateful that they and their children are safe. They went through more than a year of interviews, background checks, fingerprinting, medical exams and retina scans before being cleared to come to America.

The three oldest children have been enrolled in school and are beginning to learn English, and Hariri takes a bus from his east Charlotte townhouse to uptown each day for a class to get oriented to his new life.

The family’s rent is covered for six months and they are receiving Medicaid and food stamps. After that, though, Hariri is expected to have a job to provide for his family and also has to start paying $127 per month to pay back the $6,080 in airfare that got his family here from Jordan.

Dozens of readers emailed me to say they want to help. Two people offered to cover the entire airfare debt. Others offered money, toys, clothing, cribs, school supplies and gift cards. They offered to help Hariri find a job and they offered to tutor the children in English. Your generosity is breathtaking.

The Charlotte Catholic Diocese settled the family in Charlotte. The Diocese told me they want to help readers help the Hariri family. But because the Diocese works with so many refugees, it does not want to single out any one family for assistance.

Donors can contribute to the Diocese’s Refugee Resettlement Office. Those donations will go directly to various refugee families, and none of it will go to overhead, spokesman David Hains said. To do so, go to the Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte homepage, at www.ccdoc.org, and click the “Donate” tab at the top of the page.

Those wishing to help the Hariri family specifically can do so in two ways.

Readers who want to give money to the Hariris can do so through the Observer’s Empty Stocking Fund. You can give online, at http://bit.ly/21fPxQw. Or you can mail contributions to Empty Stocking Fund, P.O. Box 37269, Charlotte, NC 28237-7269. Please be sure to put “Hariri family” on the check memo line or in the “in honor of” section online. The first $10,000 will go directly to the Hariris; anything beyond that will go to the Empty Stocking Fund.

Readers who want to give the family items can drop those off at the Observer at 600 S. Tryon Street until 6 p.m. each day starting Monday or mail them to me at The Charlotte Observer, P.O. Box 30308, Charlotte, NC 28230.

The children are three girls, ages 8, 6 and 6; and two boys, ages 4 and 8 months. Both adults are size XXL.

The Hariri family’s story is a moving one and shows the dire circumstances millions of Syrian refugees face. It’s natural that readers want to help them, and they should. But this Thanksgiving season, I encourage you to remember that there are hundreds of other refugees in Charlotte from other countries who also need help, as well as thousands of needy and deserving long-time Charlotte residents. Perhaps readers will find ways to help them, too.