Help a Syrian Refugee Family of 6

Hello, my name is Shahzaad Raja and I am from Chicago- I have been volunteering with Syrian Community Network as a mentor for a Syrian refugee family where I meet with them once a week to help with various tasks. Thank you for taking the time to visit this page and reading the tragic journey that they have had to go through. Together, we can try to help bring some stability to their new life here in Chicago.

I have gotten to know the Karnaba family over the past 6 months and it has been a very humbling experience. They are a family of six – Aiman (father), Basema (mother), Raghad (21), Basel (18), Hanin (12), and Mohamad (11). They live in a small 2 bedroom apartment in Rogers Park and have been there for a little over a year.

I have the details of their heartbreaking story below but I do want to make it known that the family is having financial struggles so the money raised will be going to help pay their rent and medical bills. They did not ask to have the money raised– their oldest daughter Raghad dropped out of school temporarily to help the family pay the rent. I want the kids to stay in school so I decided to start this crowdfunding page to help take the financial stress off of the family.

With the war in Syria taking place, it was a very troubling time for family. The two youngest kids, Hanin and Mohamad would cry every day because they did not feel safe- they were scared for their lives.

One day, Aiman and his wife were out driving when they were approached by a group of masked men. They kidnapped Aiman right in front of his wife and fled. The men were able to get the family’s contact information and called them, asking for a large amount of ransom. The family did not have the money so the men told the family that they were going to kill Aiman.

The family felt helpless- they had no idea where Aiman was or who had captured him; there was nothing they could do. There was no contact with him for the next two months.

Aiman was blindfolded and kept in a small room with about 15 other men. He could hear women and children screaming in the room next door. He was beaten and tortured for hours at a time, being hit with large objects and whipped all over his body. He recounts that each day, the men would tell him that they were going to kill him in the next hour. They would burn cigarettes on his bare skin. The entire group was only given a piece of bread and a small potato to share for each day.

Two men in the group had been killed; after two months, they threw Aiman on the street with no shoes, very little clothing on his body, and covered in blood from head to toe. He had become very gaunt and lost 50 lbs during that time. Battered within an inch of his life, Aiman was able to walk home and reunite with his family. This was a truly traumatizing experience for him, and to this day, he has back and shoulder problems that still bother him.

Soon after, the family wanted someone to protect Raghad and they found a nice young man to marry her. After just 40 days of marriage, Raghad’s husband Muhammad was killed in the street. With the war going on, and after these two horrible tragedies, the Karnaba family decided that they could not stay. Syria, their home country, was no longer a safe place for them to live. They packed all of their essentials into one small bag for the entire family, and moved to Egypt one week later.

Basema’s brother lived in Egypt so they moved in with him. They lived in Egypt for four years; that part of their journey is documented by the United Nations in the video above.

Aiman had become very sick- he carried a lot of mental baggage from Syria as he was haunted by his bad memories. Even after all he had been through, his main concern and priority was to secure the future of his family and children. He was willing to do anything for them so they applied to the U.N. to become refugees and they were placed to be in America.

On July 2016, the Karnaba family had moved to Chicago where they were placed in a ground level apartment. In the words of Raghad, “We want to live the American dream. We have a good life here, safe environment, good schools, work opportunities- but there is a lot of financial stress because of the cost of living.”

The organization that had placed them, Refugee One, eased their transition as they helped them with their rent for the first 6 months. After that, they have been fully responsible to cover their $1,500 monthly rent. Because of the father’s back problems, he is not able to work long hours. Their son Basil (18), has been their main source of income making minimum wage at a restaurant. He goes to high school from 8 am – 3:30 pm and then goes straight to work until late hours into the night.

They also have medical bills to cover which include the father’s physical therapy for his injuries. The youngest son, Mohamad has epilepsy so he needs to take daily medication to prevent seizures.

It has been a real struggle for the family to cover their expenses- both of the parents, Basil, and Raghad work at a restaurant making minimum wage to help make ends meet. Any money raised will be withdrawn and paid directly to the Karnaba family to help cover the following expenses:

-Rent ($1,500 per month) 
-Medical Bills (Physical Therapy, Medication, Doctor appointments)

They are good hearted people and live a very simple life. The money raised will help cover their basic necessities and take some stress off of the family. The Karnaba family will appreciate any amount you can donate and sharing this post will be just as helpful.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for taking the time to read this and any help you can provide. 

Hanin, Mohamad, and Raghad

Aiman and his son Mohamad
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Shahzaad Raja 
Chicago, IL
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