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Syrian refugee in South Florida: 'We were scared of the bombs'


via @Paradise_Afshar

Editor's note: This story was published last Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, the day before the Paris terrorist attacks.

Rama Saleh always intended on leaving her hometown of Aleppo, Syria — but she never imagined a civil war would be the catalyst for her departure.

In August, the 19-year-old arrived in Miami, with her parents, brother and two sisters. She had spent two years living in Turkey, where she worked 12-hour shifts in a T-shirt factory, six days a week, to help pay for her family’s rent and food.

Today, Saleh is looking forward to furthering her education. The war prevented her from finishing high school, so her goal is to pass the GED exam and enter college. And while she is determined to create a better future for herself, the memories of her family’s escape still haunt her.

“It was like [those] action movies,” said Saleh, sitting in her Fort Lauderdale bedroom, recalling the 2013 trip across the Syrian-Turkish border that she made with about 50 to 70 people. “It was the start of winter, and one week before we left [for] Turkey it was snowing.”

After paying about $200 per person to be smuggled into Turkey, the family was transported to a rural outpost in Syria that was about an hour’s distance from the Turkish border — by foot. They traveled at night, and trudged through fields, scaled hills and climbed over fences.

Abdulhamit Saleh, 50, Saleh’s father, suffered a stroke while in Syria. The stroke left him partially paralyzed; he was carried into Turkey by another refugee.

More here.

Photo credit: Charles Trainor Jr., Miami Herald staff