Syrian Refugee Travels Long Road to Freedom (and Windham Hospital)

Print icon

Ayman Al Hariri has started a new life in Willimantic and at Windham Hospital.

The Syrian refugee, a former middle school teacher in his native land, left the war-torn nation more than four years ago for the safety of his wife and two young children.  The United Nations estimates that more than 400,000 people have been killed and nearly 5 million have been displaced because of the civil war.

“Bombs. Bombs. It was very dangerous,” Al Hariri said searching for the words in English. “I fretted for my children.”

First fleeing to Jordan, he and his family were able to relocate to Willimantic after being sponsored by Quiet Corner Refugee Resettlement (QCRR), a local group that helps refugee families transition to life in America through educational and employment opportunities.  Thanks to QCRR and a connection to Windham Hospital through Hospital Foundation Executive Director Shawn Maynard, Al Hariri was able to find employment working for the hospital’s Environmental Services Department.

“There would always be barriers for him finding employment, most often related to Ayman not being able to speak English fluently,” said Joe McLaughlin, QCRR Employment Coordinator.  “But it’s a Catch-22, because the best place to learn the language and all of its nuances is by working in a supportive environment with coworkers who can model the language.”

EVS Manager Julio Cruz said Al Hariri has been a great addition to the team.

“He’s a fast learner.  And, his English continues to improve every day,” said Cruz who first began communicating with his new staff member in Arabic using Google Translator.

Hariri, who has eight brothers and sisters who have had to relocate to Germany, Canada and Lebanon, says he feels at home in Willimantic.

“We left for our safety.  I came to America for my children and the future of my family — for the best schools and for their future,” he said.  “We feel safe.”

Since arriving in the Connecticut, Al Hariri has gotten his driver’s license and continues to take classes to improve his English.

“I would like to be a teacher [in America] but I need more English,” he laughs.

To date, QCRR has helped three Syrian refugee families transition to life in America.

“Politics falls away when there’s a personal relationship,” said McLaughlin. “And I think that creating that personal relationship is really a solution to a lot of the problems we all face whether it’s in our personal lives or our professional lives.”

For more information about Windham Hospital, click here.


What's New

Diabetes and Winter

Diabetes? Follow This Doctor’s Cold-Weather Tips to Protect Feet

By Dr. Mark Tramontozzi For people with diabetes, the winter months are a time when more attention than usual should be given to the feet.  Diabetics are at risk for having reduced blood flow to the lower extremities, and the cold weather compounds this problem. The dry weather from being...

Brain Tumor

Neuro-Oncologist: Here’s How We Treat Brain Tumors

By Dr. Ahmad Daher Medical Director, Neuro-Oncology Hartford HealthCare Medical Group Patients with gliomas, the most common cancerous brain tumors, have shown only a modest improvement in survival rate despite diagnostic and therapeutic — surgery, radiation and pharmacotherapy — advancements in oncology over the last three decades. Here’s a summary of...

Graduating into College Sports

Graduating From High School to College Sports? Some Tips

Making the transition from high school to collegiate athletics can be a daunting and difficult task. Physical therapist Stefanie Bourassa and psychologist Peter Lucchio of the Hartford HealthCare Bone & Joint Institute’s Center for Musculoskeletal Health have several tips to help make this transition smooth. Bourassa, who played Division I...

Mako

Robot-Assisted Hip, Knee Replacements Now at Central Connecticut, MidState

In early November, The Hospital of Central Connecticut and MidState Medical Center each received a Mako robot that changes the approach to hip and knee replacement surgeries. Two colleagues, Dr. Richard Scarlett, Chief of Orthopaedics at The Hospital of Central Connecticut, and Dr. Stephen Nelson, a surgeon with the Connecticut...

Palliative vs. Hospice Care

What’s the Difference Between Hospice and Palliative Care?

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month and the team from Hartford HealthCare at Home wants to help those in need of these services make the right decisions during what is a critical time for them and their loved ones. Hospice and palliative care offer compassionate care to patients...

Cold and Flu Prevention

Keeping Your Student Athlete Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

As certified athletic trainers with Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network, Sabrena Lary and Deanna Barrett take great pride in taking good care of their student athletes both on and off the field. And with flu season just around the corner, they have these tips to help students stay healthy: A mention...