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Monday, January 24, 2022

Refugees Who Left Lesbos With Pope in 2016 Settle Into Rome Life

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After Pope Francis visited the Greek island of Lesbos in April 2016, he took 12 Muslim refugees from Syria, together with six youngsters, with him again to Rome aboard the papal airplane. It used to be an act that punctuated his pleas for sympathy towards refugees simply as Eu attitudes have been hardening towards them.



5 years later, the 3 households who traveled with Francis — two from Damascus and one from Deir al-Zour — have made lives for themselves in Rome, although they are saying that their ideas are continuously with the ones they left in the back of in Syria.

“Once we were given on that airplane with him, we felt a way of peace that we hadn’t felt for a long time,” mentioned Wafaa Eid, 35, recalling a “dreamlike” travel that swept them from years of battle in Syria and a fraught five-month adventure to achieve Europe, to a rousing welcome presented by way of a Catholic charity in Rome.



“There have been plants and tune — it felt like a marriage,” she mentioned. “It used to be nice.”

Adapting to a brand new lifestyles, a brand new tradition, has now not at all times been simple, she mentioned, however her circle of relatives has discovered make stronger and generosity in Rome. Each she and her husband, Osama Kawkji, 42, paintings in a holiday house run by way of a spiritual congregation in Rome, and their youngsters — Masa, 13, and Omar, 11 — are in center faculty within the town.

“Every time I’ve requested for assist, folks have reached out,” she mentioned, together with oldsters of her youngsters’s buddies and volunteers from the charity that helped them once they first arrived. She additionally mentioned that they had made “many Italian buddies.”

All 3 households “have settled in rather well,” mentioned Cecilia Pani, who coordinates migration initiatives for the Community of St. Egidio charity, which matches with prone folks in Rome and in other places. She used to be in Lesbos in 2016 to help the households who traveled at the papal flight and has additionally helped them in Rome.

She mentioned that they had been ready to seek out jobs and housing that let them to reside independently.

With different church buildings, charities and nongovernmental organizations, St. Egidio has helped facilitate the coming to Italy of greater than 3,600 refugees during the last 5 years.

Finding out Italian has come simply to Ms. Eid, who taught herself the usage of her son’s fundamental faculty books.

“I studied, after which I might assist him,” she mentioned.

Paintings additionally helped. Prior to beginning on the holiday house, she labored as a cleaner in a Rome clinic.

In some way, she mentioned of the language, “I had to be informed.”

In July, her circle of relatives moved to a brand new condominium, the place they reside with their cat, Lulu. Within the fall, the youngsters began at a brand new faculty, the place they mentioned they preferred their categories — when bouts of coronavirus amongst classmates didn’t stay them at house.

Requested whether or not he used to be satisfied residing in Rome, Mr. Kawjki gave the impression shocked.

“Sure, in fact,” he mentioned. “Differently we wouldn’t keep.”

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