INDIANAPOLIS – Thousands of refugees from Iraq, Somalia, Burma and Syria have come to America and found their new homes in Indianapolis.
Sajjad Mohammad Jawad said his family fled Iraq in 2010 and found Indy. He said deciding to leave their home in Iraq was a matter of life or death.
"It was a huge transition. It wasn't a joke,” said Jawad. “There in the country, it is a reality. Bombed cars, suicides. What is the benefit if I feed my kids and I cannot guarantee their life until the end of the month?”
To begin their journey to America, they contacted Catholic Charities Refugee Services.
"Nobody wants to leave their home and the experience of being forced to leave because you're running for your life is really giving up life as they knew it because they had no choice,” said Heidi Smith, director of refugee services at Catholic Charities.
Jawad said he still has family in Baghdad, including his mother who is sick.
"Yeah it's hard. Before I leave, I just kissed her feet, her hands, her head and put some money under the pillow and left,” he said. “I don't wish that one day my kids will be away from me. It's hard for me to imagine that for me to be away for one month maybe. But to be away from me for a couple of years, wow. This is the hardest moment that I might face."
Jawad said the move has also been tough for his children.
"I got family there, my grandma, my grandpa. They're always in your heart. You can always make new friends, but family is forever,” said Ahmad, Jawad’s son.
Smith said many refugees are hoping to one day reunite with their families, and Catholic Charities is still accepting families.