A Syrian scientist featured on the Humans of New York Facebook page, who fled the country after a family tragedy and will soon resettle in the U.S., received a personal note from President Barack Obama.
Humans of New York, which usually focuses on New Yorkers' stories, has been sharing stories of refugees in Turkey and Jordan that have been approved for resettlement in the U.S. The scientist, who is unnamed, will find a new home soon in Troy, Michigan, after fleeing his home in Syria following the death of his wife and numerous other family members in a bombing.
“I was overseeing a project outside the city when the missile hit my house,” the scientist said during the interview that accompanied one of the seven featured images for his story on HONY’s Facebook page. “Nobody was around to help, so my son had to carry the pieces of his mother and sister out of the house."
The scientist has been living in Turkey while battling cancer.
“I had no problems before the bombing," he said. "I think the cancer came from my sadness and my stress."
He also wrote of his struggles in Turkey to support himself and his children.
“Everything that wasn’t destroyed in our house was stolen over the next two days," the scientist said. "We left with nothing. I can’t even pay the rent of this apartment. I’ve been in Turkey for two years now. I’m dead here.
"I have no life, no respect, and my children aren’t going to school. I have a Ph.D. but I’m not allowed to work without a residence permit. There is a university here that is teaching with a book I wrote, but still won’t give me a job."
Obama expressed his support for the scientist by commenting on one of his HONY photos.
“As a husband and a father, I cannot even begin to imagine the loss you've endured," Obama wrote Dec. 9 on HONY's Facebook page. "You and your family are an inspiration. I know that the great people of Michigan will embrace you with the compassion and support you deserve.
"Yes, you can still make a difference in the world, and we're proud that you'll pursue your dreams here. Welcome to your new home. You're part of what makes America great."
This is not the first time Obama has written to a HONY subject. In September, he used the official White House Facebook account, signing the post with his initials to indicate the comment came from him, to express his emotional response to a story about an Iranian father and son, The Huffington Post reported.
"What an inspirational story," Obama wrote at that time. "One of the most fulfilling things that can happen to you as a parent is see the values you've worked to instill in your kids start to manifest themselves in their actions -- and this one really resonated with me."