When President Obama delivered his final State of the Union address January 12, in attendance were members of Congress, Supreme Court justices … and Syrian refugee Refaai Hamo.
Back in 2013, Hamo, then a prominent scientist, lost his wife and one of his daughters to a missile attack. He fled to Turkey with the remainder of his family in 2013. Then he learned he had cancer. Two years later, the U.S. granted Hamo and his family refugee status. They arrived in Michigan in December.
That same month, President Obama learned about Hamo on the Humans of New York Facebook page.
“As a husband and a father, I cannot even begin to imagine the loss you have endured. You and your family are an inspiration,” Obama wrote in his Facebook response.
Michelle Obama agreed, and invited Hamo to attend the president’s State of the Union address as her guest.
The White House says, “The guests personify President Obama’s time in office and most importantly, they represent who we are as Americans: inclusive and compassionate, innovative and courageous.”
Attending the State of the Union was an honor. But for Hamo, even better is the news from his surgeon. He’s cancer-free.
Now Hamo is looking forward to living in America and achieving his dreams.
“I felt that hope was revived as well as the strength to continue my dreams and ambition in my new country,” Hamo said. “I am so proud and honored to be in this country, and look forward to one day becoming an American citizen so that we can be part of making America a strong and great country.”
The United States is a leading country for refugee resettlement and plans to resettle 85,000 refugees in 2016 and 100,000 more in 2017. At least 10,000 refugees from Syria will be part of that global number.