Every day, people from war-torn countries try to leave their homes to get to safer lands. Some are granted access to a safer life while others are denied the opportunity.
In 2016, New England accepted nearly 650 Syrian refugees. Of those refugees, over 330 have resettled in Connecticut, the Associated Press reported.
Connecticut accepted the highest number of Syrian refugees that year. Massachusetts took in 145 refugees in 2016, followed by Rhode Island with 116, Maine with 39, New Hampshire with 14. Vermont did not take in any Syrian refugees in 2016, the Boston Globe reported.
“I went half-way around the world and back, and found that my small state of Connecticut has become a welcoming sanctuary for Syrian refugees changing the hearts and minds of those around them,” Dominique Bonessi wrote on her blog.
Most of the refugees have settled in New Haven, where 264 now reside, Hartford, where 35 now live, the Globe reported.
Many refugees have come to Connecticut because of the state is welcoming them.
“All across the state, people want to welcome refugees,” Chris George, executive director of Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services in New Haven, told the members of The Rotary Club of Guilford in 201 “It’s just been overwhelming.”
Many refugees from all over the world hope to come to America for a better life for themselves and their families.
“Here, I feel that the little guys have a chance to rise up and become a big guy, without eating the little guy,” Fadi al-Asmi, a Syrian refugee who now live in Connecticut, told NPR.
Many of the refugees coming to America hope to have their own independence with their work and their family. Many organizations, including the Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, known as IRIS, hope to see the refugees succeed.
“Their independence is something we all want,” David Hager, the team leader of a private resettling group, told NPR. “The relationships are the central motivating, endearing thing about the project.”
Although groups like IRIS have raised awareness about the plight of the refugees, some Americans are opposed to their resettlement, out of fear that the refugees will take available jobs.
“While we are here, we will not be a burden. We will get back on our feet,” Zeyad Al Abas, a Syrian refugee, told the Hartford Courant. “Don’t think that we are a burden on your country. Once we’ve built up ourselves, we will be giving back to society. If Syria were to be peaceful again, and free, we would wish to go back.”
The Rev. Steven Jungkeit of Old Lyme’s First Congregational Church has grown close to a Syrian refugee family.
“I got a little note one time saying that we wanted to bring terrorists over,” Jungkeit told NPR. But after people get to know the families, “they would say, ‘There is less to fear than I thought.’ It enlarges the space of the heart.”
Elizabeth St.Germain is a student at Ellington High School.