Local News

Raleigh man working to bring family to U.S. from Syria

Posted September 26, 2015 8:00 p.m. EDT
Updated September 28, 2015 5:27 a.m. EDT

— Since the violence began in war-ravaged Syria four years ago, more than four million people have fled the country. That turmoil is impacting lives in the Triangle.

Kamel Alachraf’s family urged him to get out Syria four years ago. He was only 17 years old at the time, but he did have a United States passport.

Alachraf was born in the U.S., along with his two sisters, but the Alachraf family was forced to return to Syria after his father’s visa expired.

“They made that ultimate decision that I don’t have a future over there [Syria] because everything was going down,” Alachraf said.

Alachraf’s parents lost their business—and international school—and home after Syria plunged into a civil war.

Jobless and restless, they now live in an apartment in Damascus relying on Alachraf to carry them through from Raleigh.

Alachraf has been supporting his family for the past four years. Now as a 21-year-old, he can petition for his father to get another visa.

“It’s kind of like they can’t leave home,” Alachraf said. “There’s a lot of checkpoints and they miss their children a lot. It’s been four years since I’ve seen them.”

His mother, who found she had a tumor on her pituitary gland in 2012, was approved for a visa in April.

“It’s just a waiting game. For me, I just don’t have time,” Alachraf said. “I mean, I don’t have time because I don’t know what will happen to them over there.”

He has been working and taking classes at Wake Tech Community College for the past four years. Alachraf said he hopes to eventually enroll at N.C. State to study biochemistry.

The money Alachraf earns is sent to his family overseas or to his two teenage sisters who moved to America in June.

“It was hard because I’m here on my own shouldering all this responsibility,” Alachraf said. “At times I got really overwhelmed.”

Alachraf said his father has become overcome with regret.

“Part of him is dying inside because he’s seeing me go through all of this, and he has no one to come here and help me,” Alachraf said. “He tells me, ‘You’re not supposed to be working, you’re supposed to be studying,’ and he blames himself.”

Alachraf continues wait for the day he can tell his parents to get out of the troubled country and join their children the U.S.