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Syrian family shares story of coming to Indiana

Posted at 7:23 PM, Dec 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-09 19:23:12-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- A refugee who fled Syria with his wife and four children is asking Gov. Pence to reconsider his decision to halt the resettlement program in Indiana.

Mavwan Batman and his family now call the north side of Indianapolis their home. He knows the date they first got to do that by memory: November 20, 2014. That's the day he and his family, originally from Homs, Syria, arrived in Indiana with nothing more than their IDs.

Batman says the trip from Syria to Indiana took three years. It began around 1 a.m. – the only time he thought his family could safely escape their home and the Assad regime.

"The regime was, you know, kidnapping people, killing people, women getting raped, so they had to escape," Batman said.

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His family stayed in another part of Homs for six months before leaving the country.

"There was no work, no home, no education, no water, no electricity," he said.

Batman, his wife and kids fled Syria for Lebanon – again under the cover of night.

The remained there for a year-and-a-half before Batman received a call from the UN asking if he'd like to apply for refugee status. After three interviews with the UN and three more with the American embassy over a year's time, Batman and his family were approved to come to the U.S.

"He hopes he'll see his kids in colleges here, they will get the option to choose what they want to study, and just live safe and peaceful," Batman said through an interpreter.

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His children, ages 15, 13 and 7 are in school. Four-year-old Rimas isn't old enough to attend classes yet.

Batman says he has dreams of opening a restaurant. He hopes others from Syria will have the same opportunity.

"It's the governor's right to worry about people here in Indianapolis," he said. "But, it's not fair to put other people's life in risk to die."

Batman says the biggest challenge for him and his family has been learning English. But, he says, he's impressed with how kind and welcoming people in Indiana have been. He says he wants to meet with the governor to share his story and view on the ban on Syrian refugees.

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