Much progress has been made this summer for the Altyara family.  They passed the one year mark of their arrival on June 29th. It has truly been an amazing year for all of us!  As we settle in to fall and the start of school, it is time for an update. While many churches or ad hoc groups that have been helping to resettle the newly arrived refugees have made a one year commitment, our team has told the Altyara family we will be continuing to help them as they move toward independence.


Since the family has been in the US for one year, they became eligible to apply for a green card for each family member. Very fortunately for them (and us) their next door neighbor, Susan Reed, is an immigration lawyer and volunteered to help with the application process. Their applications have now been submitted!


A very positive change for the family this summer was Khaled’s new job. He started working at Schupan and Sons on July 24th. Several good things about this job change—he is guaranteed 40 hours a week, his commute is less than 10 minutes from home, and is saving him a great deal of money as he does not have to pay for gas to travel every work day to Shelbyville, and he does not have to work on Saturdays. He seems to be liking the work he is doing; reassembling computers from parts that are being recycled. This type of work is closer to the job he had in Syria as a water pump engine repairman. Khaled could really benefit from a one-on-one tutor a couple of evenings a week to start at the very beginning of learning English. (learning the alphabet and numbers and how to write his name and address)

Fatema got her driver’s permit in June and Ann, River and Khaled have been working with her to teach her to drive. It is our goal to get her ready to pass her driver’s license test before the snow arrives.
We really need more driving teachers to help her. She has started ESL classes 4 mornings a week at Old Central through KPS Adult Ed. (9:00 – 12:00) Her understanding of English is very good at this point and she is making great progress with speaking, writing and reading.


Adham continues to be very eager to learn English and to go to school to “get a GED”. He has taken the assessment test offered through Adult Ed and he does not yet qualify to take classes in Adult Basic Education—he needs to learn to read and write in English a bit better.  He will be taking ESL classes with Vicki Konzen’s group at Prince of Peace on Tuesdays and Thursdays and at Calvary Bible Church on Mondays and Wednesdays. He has learned to use the bus system very well and can get himself just about anywhere! It is truly amazing! Adham really needs someone who is willing to guide him and be a mentor and friend on a consistent basis. Ideally, it would be very helpful to be able to spend about 5 hours a week with him. He thrives on attention and wants so badly to learn and a mentor would be very valuable for his success in his new country.


Molham started attending classes at YOU – Youth Opportunities Unlimited in July.  He took an assessment test that placed him in Adult Basic Education, which means he is not yet at a level where he can start taking adult education GED classes. His understanding of English is remarkable, but the next leap is reading and writing. He continues to work at Shawarma King on Westnedge. He purchased a car last week—a 2007 Camry that his boss at Shawarma King sold to him for an excellent price. He is so pleased!  He will be able to do some transporting of his mother to ESL classes in the morning and for his brothers when he is not working. It’s another big milestone for him!  Molham really needs an education mentor. He is not sure what direction he wants to go in terms of planning for his future.  He is committed to getting his GED, which will likely take a couple of years, but is not sure if he wants to go to college, pursue a trade or try to start a small restaurant.


Moayadd is starting his 2nd year at Kalamazoo Central and is going to be able to complete 4 years and graduate.  This is wonderful on many levels, not the least of which is he will qualify for 60% of The Promise. He is very excited that he made his school’s soccer team and has been having a great time playing. He has asked for tutor help with some of his high school classes this year.


The twins have started at Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts.  This is a big leap for them, going from elementary school to middle school (as it is for all kids, just more so for them). They attended summer school during July and the first week of August.  They also played soccer this summer with the other Syrian kids, coached by a Syrian refugee who was a professional coach in Syria before the war. They are now playing AYSO soccer and are having a great time. This opportunity to play sports with American kids is very helpful in their acculturation and opens many doors for them. They both need tutors pretty much everyday after school. (school gets out at 2:40 and they are home by 3:15)


The family planned a picnic at local parks nearly every weekend this summer. They enjoyed quality social time with other Syrian families and were able to form friendships and connections that aren’t always possible in the fall, winter and spring. We hope to help set up the Altyaras’ basement level a little better for the late fall and winter so that they can entertain some of their friends during the colder months. Nearly all the Syrian families live in very, very small apartments that barely accommodate their families, so having friends visit is not an option. The Altyaras are very fortunate to have the space in the basement that—once we can get a good carpet and a little more furniture  to make it more inviting and useable—they can entertain friends in the winter months. We did not invest in a rug or carpeting for the basement last year because we knew there had often been water in the basement. We expect the basement to stay dry this year, because the roof was replaced this spring and all the water pipes in the house were replaced (by People’s Church volunteers), so it will be safe to put down a carpet. It would be very helpful if someone would volunteer to help with making the basement a bit more comfortable and inviting.

If you can help with any of the above mentioned needs—in bold font, please contact Ann Feldmeier,

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