A Home for the Hasan's

Let me introduce you to my dear friends, the Hasan family. Mom, Dad, five beautiful young ladies and two handsome little boys. At the end of September, this courageous family fled, for the second time, from a desperately dangerous situation to seek safety and begin a new life here in the U.S.

This family is very dear to me and I've made it my mission to ease the financial burden of their housing costs until the working members of the family can find steady jobs.

As of right now, Dad has a hit-or-miss construction job that varies greatly on the weather. He's been searching for another job, but until that job is secured, paying $1000 for rent has been difficult. Not to mention the cost of utilities, food, bus fares and other incidentals for a family of 9.

Any contribution you can make for this amazing family would be truly appreciated beyond belief. Words cannot express my gratitude - thank you with all of my heart!

Lots of love - Andrea ❤️

*If you would like to read their story, continue below.

In 2009, my sister-in-law, Sara, was living in Damascus, Syria, teaching English to refugees. She was using her fluency in Arabic to make a difference in the lives of those so affected by the devastating wars in the Middle East. While there, she met a young girl named Muna. Muna was very special to Sara. She was so strongly affected by the trials this sweet 16 year old girl was going through. As a child, Muna's legs were severely burned in a radiator fire inside her home in Baghdad. She experienced almost constant pain and needed surgeries that were unavailable in Damascus. Muna was always in and out of the hospital with kidney problems resulting from the infections caused by the burns. (These problems continue for Muna today.) Due to the connection that Sara formed with Muna and Muna's sisters, who were also her students, she met the rest of the family and fell in love with them all.

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Fast forward to 2010, as Sara's bond with the Hasan family grew. She knew that, after fleeing to Damascus in 2006 to live in a refugee camp with a trenched toilet, no piped drinking water, no chance of a job, and no schooling possible for the older girls, this family of nine was longing for a better life. They felt the civil unrest in the area around them and knew they would soon be unsafe once again. This life was far removed from the one Dad had provided his family in Baghdad before the war. As a mechanical engineer, he started a very successful large and small engine repair company and had given his large family a comfortable life. That is, until their world began to deteriorate in 2003. But now, it seemed they had a chance to start anew. With Sara's help, the Hasan family connected with a Church in Grand Rapids, MI. My mother and father-in-law, Dave and Becky, attended this Church, and with their fantastic, tight-knit group of friends, they sponsored the family. In April of 2010, the Hasans made their way to the U.S. to start a new life. It was a dream come true!

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The refugee network, provided by several Churches and other non-profit organizations in Grand Rapids, was awesome. Quickly the family was integrated into the system and they began receiving support and benefits. The children were all enrolled in school. Dad began English lessons. Muna was finally receiving the much needed medical care she required. A generous couple from Church bought them a house! Mom was beyond thrilled to have a refrigerator and stove! They got a van! Dad learned to drive and got his driver's license! They were all happy and thriving!!

Two years later, in December, 2012, Mom received word that one of her brothers had been killed tragically in a car accident. Her family was willing to buy plane tickets to fly the whole family back to Bagdad for the funeral. They packed their bags for the trip. However, the family did not return!  After nine months with no word, the Church friends had no choice but to sell the house, sell the van, and donate all of the belongings that were left behind. Their hearts were broken. What happened?? 

Early in 2013, the Church friends finally received word from the family that they were being held against their will by some radical family members. Their passports had been taken and hidden, and their communications to the U.S. were cut off. Only in secret were they able to reach out to their American friends. The children's physical, mental and emotional safety was in danger and they were begging their American family for help. Hearts broken once again, the Church friends in Grand Rapids were helpless.

After months of trying to get the correct papers to return and finding any means to survive their terrible situation, Dad sent out an email early in 2014 to Becky, informing her of the family's plans to retun to the U.S. Over the next several months, they sold everything, primarily a tiny piece of land they owned before they fled to Syria. With the help of sympathetic family members, they were able to buy plane tickets. Lies were told, saying they were fleeing to Turkey, not to the US, so they could recover their passports. Their green cards had all expired, but Dad was determined to get his family to safety and back to their "second family" in Grand Rapids.

On September 21st, Dave and another friend of the family, Barb, took the church van to Detroit to wait for the Hasan family to arrive. Without any communications other than the arrival time, it was impossible to know if they would even be able to leave Bagdad, let alone make it all the way to Detroit! After praying and waiting for over two hours, a man from immigration came through the door. He asked if anyone was waiting for a family of nine. YES!! Dave and and Barb stood up immediately and rushed over to speak with him. He explained that there were a few issues. First, their green cards had expired and it would be $5400 ($600 a piece) to renew. Dad only had $3000 with him. Also, he asked, where were they going to live? Dave responded by saying they would figure it out. The important thing was that they made it!! The immigration agent, being a fellow Christian, commended their efforts and said he would see what he could do. A half hour later, Mom, Dad, and all seven children came through the door, arms open wide to share hugs and kisses with Dave and Barb! They made it! They were safe! The immigration agent had waived the fees for all the children and only charged Mom and Dad green card fees!! Truly miraculous, as Dave was previously told by an immigration lawyer and others in the legal world that there was "no way they would be allowed back in!"

Once they had a moment to breath, everyone got to work on getting them back into the refugee system that had been so helpful to them in the past. When they went to re-enroll, they were told that, because they had left and were gone more than six months, they no longer qualified for refugee services and benefits.

Dad was able to get a job in construction but his hours are very unsteady due to the winter weather. We are currently searching for engineering connections for him in hopes that he might find a job in his field, as he so smart and his English is good. He has all of his educational credentials so hopefully this will help. He will take any decent paying job, however. He can fix anything!!

Each family member, except Mom, came with one suitcase but, due to the warm weather back home, none of them came prepared for this coming Michigan winter. Sadly, Mom's luggage was lost during their flights. Towards the end of October, after we first met, I heard they had no winter coats, boots, hats, gloves, etc. (My husband was in the Navy and our family was living in Virginia when they were here in 2010.) I made it my mission to gather coats and boots for everyone...and in that process, I fell in love. Now I have a bigger mission. ❤️

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I'm hoping you will agree that this family has endured enough stress and turmoil in the last 11 years to last a million lifetimes. With your help, I would love to ease the financial stress they're under just until they are able to get on their feet. I can't do it alone...none of us can. Thank you, so much, for caring enough!! ❤️

***If you have any engineering or job connections in the Grand Rapids area, please message me at

[email redacted].***

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"You know, my friend, it really is a miracle that we made it back here." - Dad

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Organizer

Andrea Veltkamp 
Organizer
Grand Rapids, MI
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