A Migration and Mentoring Story: Mohamad and Nisreen from Syria befriended by Tom and Wendy of Zionsville

It is our belief that mentoring leads naturally to friendship. We all need friends to navigate through life and form connection and community. It is a foundational need for any human, no matter what language is spoken or religious background. This can be challenging for refugees who come to America due to language and cultural differences. Mohamad and Nisreen arrived in America in 2016 and got involved with Migros Aid before we even incorporated as an organization in 2017. They attended our weekly English Club and our weekly tutoring program called ‘Homework club”. Soon after they arrived, They have been active in our community garden for the two years we have had it. Tom and Wendy Langebartels became Migros Mentors to them in late 2016. Their families have become close friends and like family to each other sharing so many times together. Tom and Wendy have helped them learn English, find work, teach them how to drive, help them find a car to buy, navigate green card issues,  apply and get accepted into a Habitat home and so many other things to list.     Most importantly, they have been faithful friends. Tom and Wendy have put their Christian faith into action.

As Tom says, “Jesus said, ‘I was a stranger and you invited me in.’  We met Mohamad and Nisreen and tried to do just that and our lives have been changed because of the friendship we have developed with them.”

A Migros Mentor is someone who becomes a friend and may not be able to solve every problem or assist with every need but will be present in support and friendship along the way. Please contact us if you want to become a Migros Mentor to a refugee family.

MORE OF MOHAMMAD AND NISREEN’S STORY & BACKGROUND…

Mohamad and Nisreen had a happy life in Aleppo, Syria. Mohamad worked as a cobbler repairing and designing shoes.  He ran his business with his brother, who also migrated to Indianapolis.  Their store was the bottom floor of their family home. His wife, Nisreen was busy raising their three children, ages six, four, and one. They had a close community of family and friends in their neighborhood. As neighbors, they cared for each other’s children, celebrated joys, and were close to each other. 

In 2011, the bombing of their neighborhood was fierce, destructive, and very unexpected from the war raging in Syria for years.    They lost everything they had worked so hard for and were forced to flee the country on foot with just a few clothes in bags.  Mohamad’s mother had severe heart problems, so he lovingly carried her on his back many miles to the  Turkish border. At one point in their journey to safety, they had to walk for four hours on a 2-3-foot-wide path with deadly landmines on either side and their small children in tow. They arrived at the home of a relative who lived close to the border where they rested for three days. After crossing into Turkey, they stayed with others from their town – eighteen people in one small room. They were all looking to start their lives over in this new country. Mohamad found a job as a caretaker and eventually found a small house to rent. While they were away from the bombing, the family still did not feel safe. Soon they applied through the United  Nations for Refugee status to come to the United States. After 5 years, they were on a plane to the US – having added two children to their family and Nisreen pregnant with their sixth child.  

They arrived in Indianapolis as refugees and were set up in a small apartment. Sadly, they lost their sixth child after arriving in the US. The older children enrolled in school in a Newcomer class to learn English. For the past three years, Nisreen has excelled working as an order packer at a local warehouse and Mohamad has navigated virtual schooling with five children. Mohamad is hopeful to find a full-time job when their children’s school schedule becomes more stable.  Mohammad does have a heart condition.   They understand the value of education, which he and Nisreen did not receive as children. He is hopeful for his children to all attend college as they finish high school. 

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