Catholic Charities helps settle Syrian refugee family in Pinellas

When Walid Daaboul left for Turkey months ago he could only think of two things: getting medical care for his sick baby boy and saving his family from the bombing and gunfire exploding just steps outside him home in Halab, Syria.

Daaboul's journey began when Syrian Army forces showed up to his town and kicked everyone out of their homes.

"They were asked to leave the house for two hours for a routine search, but when they came back they asked them to find somewhere else to live," said a translator speaking on Daaboul's behalf.

Nearly a year later, Daaboul's biggest worry is how to get a sofa through the door of his new Largo home. In that time Daaboul worked with the United Nations and State Department to receive refugee status and move to the U.S. Daaboul said his case was expedited because of his son's poor health. Thursday, the Syrian refugee shared that his son is recovering from liver complications well.

The Daaboul family is just one of 147 families, mainly from the Middle East, that Catholic Charities has helped to resettle in the Tampa area this year. Next year they're projected to bring 200 more families, and with the looming immigration crisis in Europe and refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq streaming out of their war-torn countries, that number may increase.

Mark Dufva, executive director of Catholic Charities, says Hillsborough county is second only to Miami-Dade in rehousing the most refugees coming to Florida. His organization finds housing for refugees and connects them with social services, job training and English classes.

Daaboul says he has basic dreams, some of which are already becoming a reality.

"His dreams are very simple. He wants to be a good citizen, he wants for his kids to be able to go school and get educated," said the translator.