Coloradans with ties to Syria worried about family overseas

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LONGMONT, Colo. --  The debate over what to do with thousands of Syrian refugees might have begun half a world away, but it has now trickled onto the Main Streets of Colorado.

That includes Main Street in Longmont.

Inside Winchell’s Donuts, Fares Batikha is hard at work alongside his good friend Abdul Khuraibon. Both men immigrated from Syria decades ago, but both still have loved ones trapped inside the country.

“I think about it every day, every night,” Batikha said.

One of Fares’ brothers managed to escape the country by boat to Europe. His other brother is still in Syria, not willing to risk death to get his wife and two kids out of the country.

“You have to fight. You have to pay a lot of money to get water. The most important single thing in your life is water. You can’t live without water,” he said.

Khuraibon shares a similar story. Several of his relatives’ homes were bombed and destroyed.

“My brother, he lost his house. My sisters, my neighbors, all my cousins. They lost their house and where are they going to go?” he said. “Half of them, I don’t know where they are.”

Khuraibon sends ever cent he can spare overseas, just hoping it makes it to his loved ones. However, he says he’s overwhelmed and frustrated he can’t do more to help.

“They can’t come over here,” he said.

Both men say they used to rush home to try to learn the latest about Syria on television. However, both have no stopped. They say the images are too much to bear.

“Because I’ve been on those streets, I’ve walked through those streets,” Batikha said. “You never thought this would happen to our country.”

It’s a country now relying on not only people like Batikha and Khuraibon, but also the generosity of complete strangers half a world away.

“The thing I want to tell everyone is there’s bad Muslims, good Muslims, bad Christians, good Christians. It’s not a religion thing. It’s people,” he said.

A big message from a little doughnut shop in Colorado.