It Takes A Team: Part 3
By: Johnna Gadomski and Juilee Shivalkar
This is Part 3 of a mini-series about Marwan and his team—St. Bartholomew’s, Page Love, Nathan, Araz, Rebecca, and Hassan. Click here to Read Part 1 and Part 2! Now, we learn more about Marwan and his life here in Clarkston.
After fleeing Aleppo, Marwan and his family made their way to Turkey and then eventually the U.S. He explained to us, through his translator Nathan, that he and his family “had to leave” to escape the violence.
“They were shooting people in the streets,” he says. In order to seek asylum, the family first went to Turkey, and then came to Clarkston last Thanksgiving as refugees. Marwan even shows us the date carefully marked in his calendar that his new life started.
Following a few initial challenges, Marwan has integrated himself into his new community. Since arriving in Georgia, Marwan’s son was able to have necessary surgery, and Marwan was able to see a doctor about his knee. Now, Marwan can even bend his knee and kneel down to work in his garden. Of course, a large part of Marwan’s success with his garden is due to his team.
Beyond equipping Marwan with the ability to express himself through ASL, the team and St. Bartholomew’s also helped Marwan express himself through his passion: gardening.
“He used to be a landscaper in Aleppo,” his sponsor Page Love explains. To say that Marwan had a green thumb would be an understatement. St. Bartholomew’s purchased a small plot of land at the Clarkston Community Center Garden, which Marwan utilized to its full capacity. When asked about his garden, Marwan’s whole face lights up, and he signs the word for “happy” energetically.
“He planted everything–corn, squash, beans, you name it,” laughs Page. “He really wants to work. He even rides his bike over there.”
For when he can’t make it to his garden, he even planted mint and a few other herbs at home in little pots, which he showed us right away. But Marwan doesn’t just plant in his garden, he also gives advice and gardening tips to others in the community.
“I help other people,” Marwan explains, translated by Nathan.
“He gives other people advice on how and what to plant,” Page agrees with Marwan. Clearly, as much as the community has been good for Marwan, Marwan has also been good for the community.
“The church community as a whole has been thankful for the opportunities to show that we are welcoming of immigrants and that we want our community to be diverse and growing,” says John, a volunteer from St. Bartholomew’s. He explains that working with Marwan’s family is “not a small commitment, but it is immensely rewarding.”
When we ask him about his community, Marwan embodies his thoughts with a single sign: “friend”.
Recently, Marwan celebrated his daughter’s birthday – her first in the U.S. Looking to the future, he talks about getting his knee fixed, his children succeeding in school, his garden, and of course, his friendships. Nathan, Page Love and the rest of Marwan’s team demonstrate the importance of a strong support system for success.