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The Foundation has provided millions of dollars in grants to hundreds of non-profit organizations across New York that provide desperately needed legal services to those who are without means themselves to obtain the services of counsel.


Following is a story written by a young woman from Syria.

Her family was assisted through the The Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo, Inc. because of a grant that assisted in obtaining translation/ interpretation services in order to provide direct legal representation.


Because of Empty Bullet

                My name is Sara.  I was born in Syria Damascus in 2002.  I speak Arabic.  I came to the United States in March, 2016.  I was thirteen years old.  I want to say something about my family and me “we looked like the immigrant birds during our journeys”.

                My family’s native country is Syria.  I was 9 years old when we left our native country in 2012.  We left Syria because we were having so many difficulties.  But the most important reason was the big war.  There were no stores to buy food because the stores were all locked.  There was no work the reason was no work for war.  There were people held guns, and knives.  They killed anybody they saw in the street.  I remember a really scary day that we left our house.  It was frightening because a lot of terrifying things happened that day.  The first thing that happened was people said there were groups of people coming to houses, and stabbing people.  If we left the house, it was 100 percent sure we would have died.  After that night the armor tanks were around our building.  The plane and tanks were shooting and when I heard that voice I cried, and I hid under the chair because I was so scared.  Then we forced to find a way to leave our home, so we tried, and we succeeded.  When I remember that day I want to cry.  When we left our home, we were running, and I saw all people were running without shoes because they were so scared.  We took only the important papers with us.

                We went to my aunt’s house.  It was so small, and some of my relatives came to her house, too.  Her house began to look like a pickle jar.  My father decided to travel to Lebanon by bus and then we went to my mother’s cousin, and she was waiting for us.  We stayed in her house for one week.  Then she expelled us from her house.  I said to my father “the life doesn’t change the people’s souls change always”.  All my family members were sad.  She doesn’t know what she did.  I whispered to myself “she didn’t know the saying don’t break these four:  relation, heart, trust, and promise because when they break they don’t make noise, but they leave pain a lot”.  We went to my father’s uncle, and he evicted us too.  We were forced to find house.  We found a very small house.  It has a bedroom, and a living room.  The walls were smelly, and wet.  The most important problem for me was I couldn’t go to the school because I had to pay so much.  But the owner of my house paid me for the school.  I was happy.  But I studied on the dark with my small flashlight.  I worked hard.  Then I was the first student in my class.  Anyway we stayed a year in Lebanon. 

                My second place of refuge was Jordan.  We traveled to Jordan by plane.  We went to my sister’s house.  After a week we rented two houses, we stayed in the first one 1 year, and two in the other.  Their walls were smelly, and wet too.  But the good thing was that I was the first student in my class.  We registered in UNHCR, when we were in Jordan which was the second country we traveled to.  UNHCR called my father, and they asked if he did want go to America, and my father said yes of course.  And they scheduled the first interview which was with my father and my older brother.  The second interview was with all of us, and also in UNHCR.  And then the third, and fourth interviews were in IOM with the whole family.  The interviews continued for a year, and a half.  After that they called my father to tell him about the two appointments to go to the hospital for medical tests.  One day IOM called us, and they told us about the traveling appointment.  My family was so tired, optimistic, and they were so happy during the immigration process.

                I was so tired during traveling to USA because we had to ride three different planes.  I also was excited because I was thinking about what America looks like.  I was scared because it would be new beginning for me, new friends, new house, new school, and new language.  My family was worried, and tired, and that appeared on their faces.  I left my sister, my two nephews, and her husband.  I miss them so much.  I hope to see them again.  I understood in the first, and second plane because they spoke Arabic, but in the third airports they spoke really fast English, and I couldn’t understand.  I was worried.  I didn’t like the service on the plane because it was so bad.  I am missing my friends from Syria:  Mona and Lina, from Lebanon:  Ghader and Razan, from Jordan:  Wajed and Rand.  They were friendly, forgiving, and loyal. 

                I was excited to see my new school.  I was also scared because it was a new language.  When I went to the school I couldn’t understand all the words, and the lessons.  I felt so pessimistic, and I was crying all the first day at school.  Do you know why?  Because I was the first student in my class in my country, and in all the countries I traveled to, so I swear it hurts me to not be the first student now. 

                My new house has three bedrooms, living room, kitchen, and a bathroom.  It is small for us because our house in my country was so big, with four bedrooms, two living rooms, two bathrooms, a big kitchen, and a guest room.  In my country the houses are made of cement, bricks, and iron.  But here they are made of wood.  Do you know what?  Sometimes it is hard for us to find food here we had in our country, then we go to Arabian stores to buy it.  We eat different food like Kibbeh, Falafel, Yabbrak, yalnje, mosabaha, biklawa, and kunafa.

                In conclusion, I am thankful that I escaped “the bullet” and that I am free from war.  I hope to see my sister Heba and her family.  I would like to be a doctor.  I wish to my sister, Souaad, my older brother Mohe Eddin, my younger brother, Bashar, my father, Mohammad, and my mother, Majeda, good luck.  I am the youngest in my family, but I understood all my story.  I desire you to get knowledge from my story. 


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