MISHAWAKA -- Imagine leaving your home, fleeing the country to save your life, spending months away from your family, before finally being reunited in another country. That's the story of one Iraqi family that, with the help from the Red Cross, is making Mishawaka their new home.
The final family member of the al Aziz flew into South Bend yesterday. Now, the family is starting their new lives right here in Mishawaka.
"We're going to start a new life and we start calculated from today," Souzan al Aziz, who flew into South Bend yesterday, said.
It's been a journey spanning countries, years and nearly half a world. But Friday, is the first full day for this family in its new home. Souzan al Aziz is the final member of her family to make it to Mishawaka.
"I want to be a person, living life, have(ing) a safe life, a secure life," al Aziz said.
For two years, Souzan had been working for an American contracting group in Baghdad's Green Zone, when she says terrorists black listed her entire family. One of al Aziz’s sisters was killed. Staying in the country meant the entire families lives could be taken at any time. In 2005 al Aziz, her mother and sister, niece and nephew fled Iraq.
"It's so difficult because you are just leaving your memories, your childhood,” al Aziz said, “Now you have to decide if you leave it and you will live, or you will stay and you will lose your life."
The family packed what they could, fled to Syria for a couple of months, then to Dubai. They stayed in Dubai for about five years. In March, four of the family members made it to Mishawaka. Souzan al Aziz stayed behind until Thursday, when she landed in South Bend.
"I cannot tell you anything, I'm just happy, so happy," Souzan’s sister, Hiba al Aziz said.
"I was dreaming to be here one day," Souzan al Aziz said.