NewsLocal News


Syrian refugee speaks out about her journey to the United States for the first time

Posted at 6:37 PM, Jul 21, 2023

SLO4 Home is a nonprofit aimed at helping refugees establish new lives on the Central Coast.

The organization has helped six families relocate to the Central Coast over the course of a year and a half helping families find a home and jobs, but most importantly offering support every step along the way.
KSBY had the chance to sit down with one woman from Syria who told us about her journey to the United States for the very first time.

Rawan Makhoul fled dangerous conditions in her home country.

She’s only been in the United States for three and a half months, but it was a goal she waited a long time for.

“My uncle applied for us to come to the United States since like 2008," said Makhoul.

 It was a necessary change Rawan and her family had to take even though they were leaving behind everyone and everything they knew.

“The main thing like above everything is feeling unsafe there. That's like the main reason, like the war started several years ago, like 2011, and since then life was like 100% changed," added Rawan.

 The road to get here was not an easy one.

“The feeling that you're like restarting your life. I'm 25 years old and I feel like everything I achieved before is gone," explained Makhoul.

The move to the United States brought along a multitude of changes.

A new culture, language, traditions, and even food.

“I heard a lot about hot dogs in America. I tried them and they’re delicious," said Makhoul.

But Rawan isn’t alone on this road.

“When we heard all of a sudden we were getting three families from Syria. I volunteered to be one of the mentor/contact people," said Susan Updegrove, SLO4 Home volunteer.

SLO4 Home has been there every step of the way. Helping them find a home, furniture, food, and most importantly providing unconditional support.

“I’m like their grandma. Maybe I can be that part of the family that maybe was left behind that they will not have in this country, but that I can provide some of that role," explained Updegrove.

 These new challenges aren’t easy.

“I can’t describe how much it's hard to leave everything behind, but I think it's going to be worth it. From like my feeling now, yeah, it's worth it," said Makhoul.

 Rawan is determined.

“I'm not looking at how much is going to take. I'm looking at it like I'm going to achieve that," added Makhoul.

Rawan tells KSBY she was a pharmacist, but she’s not giving up on her dream career.

She is already working on getting her license in America.

SLO4 Home has welcomed six families so far and is working on welcoming Ukrainian families very soon.

On August 5, 2023, SLO4Home is hosting A Summer Soiree, An Evening of Fun and Fundraising at the Edna Ranch.

Seating is limited. RSVP to no later than July 26, 2023. Address and parking details will be provided to attendees only.