afThe fall has brought many changes and advancements for our Syrian Refugee Family!

The four youngest boys started school in KPS. 

The twins, Omar and Abdullah are attending Arcadia Elementary School. Arcadia is very special – about 10% of the children speak Arabic. This helps so much because the kids can help each other learn English. Many of the children who go there are already bi-lingual. Omar and Abdullah are acquiring English skills at a fast pace and are now able to have a conversation of sorts with our People’s Church Resettlement Committee team members. They both need quite a bit of tutoring and help with homework, especially common core math.  Both boys recently tried out for the basketball team – a game they had no knowledge of before coming to the US. They are eager to learn and to participate. They have both learned to ride a bike and are beginning to master skate boarding!

Moayadd (age 17) and Molham (age 20) are both attending Kalamazoo Central. For this first trimester they are spending their mornings in ESL classes and then take music, gym and other non-academic classes.  They will begin taking academic classes the second trimester. Both young men are understanding a great deal of English and their spoken English is advancing. Molham has a part time job at Shawara King on Westnedge, working a couple of afternoons a week after school and one day on the weekend. Molham enjoys baking and cooking. He had a job in Jordan as a pastry maker. His goal is to get his GED (because of his age, he is only allowed to attend high school this year, so he will have to go to adult GED classes next year)  and go on to college. Moayadd is the family’s barber – he keeps all the men in the family looking sharp!  He, too wants to complete high school and attend college someday.


Khaled, Fatema and Adham (age 21) began attending many ESL (English as a Second Language) classes offered in the community.

Our own Vicki Konzen organized and runs ESL classes at Portage Prince of Peace Church on Tuesday and Thursday mornings that both Fatema and Adham attend. Additional classes at Calvary Bible Church on Mondays and Tuesdays, as well as Kalamazoo Public School ESL classes for parents of students in the KPS school system are part of their scheduled “out of the house classes” In addition to all of the “out of the house classes” People’s Church tutors do in-home tutoring as often as we can get it scheduled. Adham is a very eager student and has aspirations of getting his GED and going to college as well. He is learning to write in cursive and has been able to transition to writing left to right on the page.  This is difficult because Arabic has a completely different alphabet and they write on the page from right to left. One’s brain has to adjust greatly to make the switch!


Fatema’s brother and his family arrived in Kalamazoo on October 11th.

There was much joy at this happy reunion. Third Reformed Church is the sponsor for the Al Najar family. (Fatema’s last name is Al Najar, as women keep their family of origin’s last name in Syria) Her brother Mohammad and his wife Howla have three young children – a boy age 11, a girl age 10 and a boy age 4. Third Reformed Church has secured housing for the Al Najar’s within walking distance of the Altyara family.


Khaled got a job!

Khaled began working at Michigan Fine Herbs in Shelbyville on Monday October 17th. Naturally he was very anxious to have a job and move towards having the financial resources to support his family. This job is an important step in his family’s road to independence. His job at Michigan Fine Herbs is packing herbs for retail sale in Southwest Michigan grocery stores.  You will find the herbs in all of our local grocery stores in small plastic boxes that hang in the produce section.

Michigan Works has a program that assists in purchasing a car for families who need transportation to get to work. Khaled is practicing his driving with Rick Johnson and Jerry Bohl so that he can pass our State of Michigan driving test. He has passed the written portion and will take the driving portion as soon as he is ready to pass it and has time off from his job. Another step to the road to independence!


Preparation for Winter

Winter will be a new experience for the Altyaras. While they occasionally experienced a dusting of snow in Syria, that was all.  We are working to make sure that they have the appropriate winter clothing: snow boots, warm jackets, gloves, hats, etc.

The Youth at People’s Church are holding a warm clothes drive for November. Here are sizes for the family members: Khaled: Large, Fatema: Medium (she will need a coat, rather than a jacket) Adham: Medium to Large, Molhem: Medium, Moayadd: Small – Medium, Omar size 14 boys and Abdullah size 16 boys. If you have winter clothing that will be the correct size, please mark it for the Syrian family when you bring it to church.  There will be a bin labeled “For the Altyara Family”


Additional needs:

  1. Monetary donations to purchase a large rug/carpet for the basement. Make checks payable to People’s Church and indicate in the memo line that it is for the Refugee Resettlement.
  2. Someone to who knows how to mount a flat screen TV and get it hooked up properly. Contact Ann Feldmeier at 269-720-1649 or email at if you can help with this task.
  3. Household items such as personal care items: shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste, cleaning supplies: dish washing soap, detergent, hand soap, floor cleaner, etc. paper products: napkins, paper towels, toilet paper. We have been collecting these items and have a bin at the top of the stairs labeled for the refugee family. We have also been purchasing needed items using donated Meijer Gift Cards. Both are welcome!

The Refugee Resettlement Team thanks everyone who has helped the Altyara’s. Many people have volunteered their time, donated household items, and/or made donations.  All have made a significant positive impact on the family.

Leave a Reply