Syrian refugees look for new home in Central Valley
CLOVIS, Calif. (KMPH) —
Nabila Jonblat is at home as she walks through a park in Clovis.
"I have a feeling this is my place!" she says.
She smiles, feeling secure --and free.
It's a big departure from her home country of Syria.
"It's painful, you know," she says.
Jonblat is from Sweida, in Southern Syria-- near the border with Jordan.
The Islamic State carried out attack there in July.
Jonblat still has family there.
"My brother, my sister... my oldest sister... she passed away during that period," Jonblat said.
She also has nieces and nephews.
And neighbors she considered family, too.
"It's not easy if you know someone who is 20, 22... and he died. It's not easy. And it's not just one. It's thousands of people," she said. "They are poor people forced to fight."
"It's horrific. Horrific. The gas, the babies, the bombs," says Rebecca Pope.
Pope's husband is a professor at Fresno Pacific University.
He heard there were about 200 Syrian refugees headed to Fresno.
And he asked her if she'd consider hosting any of them.
"When I was a child, we had refugees from Cambodia live with us," Pope said. "I felt like, that's what you do. You take the people that need something."
Jonblat stayed with her family for about eight months.
"She shared a room with my ten-year-old daughter," Pope said.
Jonblat's mother, Jamila, was later granted asylum, too.
"She means everything," said Jonblat. "She had been alone. My brothers had their families."
So, the two moved-in with another family.
But now, that family is selling its home.
And Jonblat and her mother are looking for a place to live.
At least until the Spring.
While Jonblat works packing items at Amazon in Fresno-- and taking care of two seniors in Sanger-- she's a Pharmacist by profession.
She has more than 20 years of experience in Syria and United Arab Emirates.
She's been taking classes to improve her English and is getting ready to test for her Pharmacist license in April.
She gets around in a late 90's Chevrolet sedan.
"That car I'm driving, it's a gift," she says.
The car had belonged to Pope's son, who got another vehicle.
The license plate reads "XSHN JXN"-- which translates into Action Jackson.
"I was so lucky!" says Jonblat.
Now, she hopes she'll have as much luck finding a place to live in her new home, the Central Valley.
If you know a room to rent or a guest house that's available, you can call Rebecca Pope at 559-317-2292.