Thousands of dollars have been raised for the Dunia Market, whose owner has been allowing Syrian refugees to buy groceries on credit until they get on their feet.
Fresno got national attention on Thursday when the New York Times published a story about a recent influx of refugees from Syria – many of whom first arrive in other parts of the state but are drawn to the city because of affordable housing.
“But behind the low rent is a city struggling with high poverty and unemployment, making it more difficult for the refugees to secure jobs,” the Times’ story says. “And Fresno has no federally funded agency to help them find work, learn basics like bus routes and understand United States culture and rules, like with the practice of animal slaughter.”
A Go Fund Me account was set up to help Nabih Dasgher, a store owner featured in the story who has been loaning Middle Eastern foods and other supplies to refugees.
Dagher reported that 17 refugee families owed a total of $2,925, some owing $43 and others owing $300. By Friday afternoon, 48 people had donated to the Go Fund Me, raising more than $3,000 to pay those debts.
“A lot of people called. Somebody came in and gave me money to help with refugees, too,” Dagher said Friday. “If you want to help, thank you very much. I’m still helping.”
The Bee first wrote about Fresno’s Syrian refugees last year, when about 15 families moved here from Turlock and other settlement sites in California in October. Since then, the Fresno Unified School District has met with counselors, social workers and English language specialists to welcome Syrian students.
“We feel privileged that we get the opportunity to serve these students because we know that they’ve had to endure much more than any one of us has had to endure in our lifetimes,” said Maria Maldonado, the district’s assistant superintendent for English learner services. “We’re helping them heal, but who they are should not be forgotten.”