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Malek Hamad cried the entire first leg of his journey to Utah.
Malek, 39, was leaving one of the most war-torn places on earth: Syria, where he had seen countless men, women and children killed, where he had risked his own life to carry food to civilians in a city under siege, and where a seemingly endless war was still raging. The life his family built over generations in Tafas, Syria, in the devastated Dara’a area, had been reduced to rubble, parents and siblings scattered and their family home set on fire.
The sobbing of Malek’s three young sons as he’d held them while bombs rained down on their town echoed in his mind as he sat with them and his wife, Baraa Huraideen, 29, on the first airplane any of them had ever boarded, bound for the United States.
Yet Malek didn’t feel relief. He was devastated to leave his parents, whom he’d lived with his entire life and supported for 14 years. But as a refugee in Jordan, he was informed that his children would no longer be allowed to enroll in school, and the U.N. had offered him the chance to resettle in the United States.
Torn between his parents and his children, Malek made an agonizing decision.
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