Syrian refugees work to make Columbia home

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COLUMBIA - Eleven Syrian refugees relocated to Columbia this summer. Father, husband and aspiring chef, Ahmad Alkadah said assimilating has been a challenge, but its one he's grateful for. 

"I was sad about losing my country, but I was more focused on what was coming next," Alkadah said. 

Alkadah is from a town in the south of Syria, Al-Hirak, roughly the size of Sedalia. In July of 2012, after conflict from the Syrian War became too much, 4,000 residents fled the town to neighboring cities or Jordan. Then, in November, Alkadah joined some of them in Irbid, Jordan. 

"Our initial plan was to only stay there for a few months, but that is obviously not what happened," Alkadah said.

In the first few months, he did not get a job because he still hoped to return to his home. 

Irbid is Jordan's third largest city. Alkadah met his now-wife, Samira, there. She is a former resident of Al-Hirak. 

"I was the only man in the house so I needed to help my family," Alkadah said. 

Soon after they were married, Samira gave birth to their daughter. Just a few months later, she arrived in Columbia. Samria said she is optimistic about her daughter's future growing up in a world far different from the one she did. 

"I want to raise my daughter with good manners and to be lovely, just like any other Syrian child," she said. 

One of the ways Alkadah said he got assimilated into Columbia was through his job at campus dining hall, Plaza 900. 

"As long as I'm in the kitchen I'm happy there," he said.

Alkadah and his family greeted eight new refugees at the Columbia Regional Airport last week.