On December 20, 2017, the Zarour family celebrated their first ‘American Birthday,’ in Reno. What a year it has been for them. They arrived and settled in the apartment in Sparks that the Sinai community furnished, decorated and provisioned. It took a while for the children to clarify their vaccination status and enter elementary school. Mom and dad had difficulties finding employment and getting into the appropriate English language classes. Sinai members took them shopping, to medical appointments, and to English classes. Others spent hours teaching them to drive and understand the US rules of the road.

Things have definitely looked up. Ahmad is doing electrical installations at a Reno company that manufactures custom chairs and furniture for the casino industry. He works about 50 hours a week now – 40 hours standard and as much overtime as he can get. Marwa works 4 hours a day, 5 days a week preparing new appliances for sale and delivery. In February, she will begin a 4-month training program to become a pharmacy tech. She is the first female refugee in the Reno program to have a driver’s license. Shayma and Yamama have each been named Student of the Month in their respective classrooms. The family has moved to a different apartment in Sparks that has washer and dryer, its own garage and access to a community swimming pool. Stephanie and Mark Fenton provided them with a car that allowed the freedom get to and from work and do their own shopping and attend medical and dental appointments. Saving as much money as they could, they recently purchased a second car which allows Marwa vastly improved mobility and scheduling of work and appointments.

Last week, Marwa and Ahmad said to me “Thank you to the Jewish community that got us started here, supported us and gave us the opportunity to now be financially independent.” Mazel Tov to them and us!