Syrian refugee family reunites in Eugene with warm welcome

Hussain and Avin Rachou thank the community for their help reuniting their family. (SBG, AF)

EUGENE, Ore. - A family of Syrian refugees is finally reunited after two years apart.

Eugene resident Hussain Rachou welcomed his wife and two young sons to Eugene Saturday evening after their long journey from Dubai.

Friends of Rachou said his kids, ages eight and nine, were not allowed to go to school in Dubai because they were refugees.

Rachou has had legal asylum in the United States through work.

He said it's been a long process getting his family here.

On Saturday he met his wife and children at an airport in California. The family then flew in to SeaTac, which is between Tacoma and Seattle.

From SeaTac, the family drove to Eugene. Waiting for them was a group of people who helped make the reunion possible.

RELATED | Finding refuge: 'We lost our home and all of our properties. We lost everything'

The welcome-home celebration took place at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Eugene.

At the celebration, Connie Newman, chairperson of the Unitarian Church’s refugee sanctuary project, explained how difficult the process was to reunite Rachou with his family.

"Hussain was told that our embassy had no proof that Avin was his wife. So he needed to get his marriage records, and then they needed to be translated into English.”

Newman said during that time, Rachou lost his job and was even going hungry.

Despite his personal struggles, Rachou's charismatic personality made friends everywhere.

A group of strangers came together to help him find a job, a new apartment, and bring his family to the United States.

Some people who helped Rachou were members of the Unitarian Church, the Refugee Resettlement Coalition of Lane County, Eugene Islamic Center, and supportive community members.

They said reuniting the family was a long process of going back and forth to the embassy.

“Sometimes Rachou was very depressed and downhearted when he would finish getting rid of one obstacle and another one would crop up,” said Newman.

But just a week before the reunion, the last paper got the last stamp of approval for his family to come to Eugene.

The Eugene Islamic Center paid for their plane ticket.

“It's not by our choice to be separated. It's not by our choice. I don't like my kids to see the people that are dying on the road, to hear the noise of the bombing and the shooting the people every place. Thanks God they are coming here, thanks God. Now the new life for me, thank you a lot, thanks a lot everybody,” said Rachou.

“There are more than 6 million refugees in the world now and we know that what we can do is only a small amount, but if we can save a life, then it's worth doing,” said Newman.

Rachou's family will live with him in Eugene.

His two boys will start elementary school soon and become members of our community.

RELATED | Refugees: A world away from loved ones, anxious and in limbo

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