Family celebrates Thanksgiving in US after fleeing war in Syria

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Thanksgiving is a time to be with loved ones, gathering around a warm meal.

But for immigrants who are new to this country, Thanksgiving is about much more than turkey and sides.

We sat down with a recent refugee to see how her family is celebrating a holiday that's new to them.

Mayada Anjari came to the US three years ago with her daughter Jana, three sons and her husband. The family fled the war in Syria, and they were welcomed by volunteers at Rutgers Presbyterian Church.

"When we came here they found an apartment and work for my husband and rent my house," said Mayada. "Find school for my children ... and thanks for them to help us."

She is especially thankful at this time of year, and Thursday she will cook her third Thanksgiving meal.

She roasts her turkey with curry and serves it with yellow rice, a Syrian dish featured in her cookbook published this fall.

The idea was born out of fundraising dinners she hosted at the church.

"It's a wonderful cookbook, great recipes and the story of her family and of refugees from Syria," said Nancy Muirhead, who volunteers with the church's The New American Committee, which has helped four immigrant families settle in since 2015.

"They're fleeing trauma, so to try to help them start again, become a part of our extended family and we love them," said Muirhead.

Now that all four families are settled in, Rutgers Presbyterian is partnering with a synagogue on the Upper West Side to focus on getting more refugees and asylum seekers employed.

Employment is esential to making a life in the United States. Mayada's husband is working and she will make money on her cookbook, all of which they will give thanks for Thursday.

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