Coming to a new place is overwhelming; now imagine that you don’t speak the language, you have never experienced cold weather, and you must navigate complicated government systems. For many refugees and immigrants, this deluge of overwhelming new experiences is common.    

For one refugee family from Syria, they were not only eager to reestablish their lives in Minnesota, but have dreams they plan to chase. Homam and Alaa are connected with a Good Neighbor volunteer team of friends from the North Metro. As the family is balancing learning English and adjusting to the weather, Homam and Alaa are working to accomplish their goals.

“We had some difficulties with transportation but our (Good Neighbor) friends were always ready to help, which eased a lot of the challenges,” said Homam. 

We hope that we and our children will live a decent and happy life in Minnesota

“Homam drove trucks for years back home, so it was hard for him to have to rely on other people for rides,” said Heather, the volunteer team leader. “Homam was persistent in practicing driving, and got his license this summer. A family who hosted the family when they first arrived, generously gave them a car which has allowed the family much more freedom.”

“We told our Good Neighbor team about our most important goals which were driving for Homam, and opening our own restaurant. We hope that our children and Homam and I will live a decent and happy life in Minnesota,” shared Alaa. Alaa is now planning on pursuing a drivers license this year, in addition to working toward starting her restaurant business.

Alaa has had many opportunities to showcase her phenomenal cooking skills. A church in Saint Paul hired her to cook food for their women’s events, and Arrive Ministries has hired Alaa to cater our summer picnic and fall pastor’s luncheon.

“Alaa is a wonderful chef and presents her food in such beautiful ways,” said Heather. 

Even while juggling work and family life, Homam and Alaa still make time for friendship and hospitality. 

They are like a big family that includes us.

“They are a social family and enjoy hosting. One of our favorite meals was a Syrian BBQ on Homam’s new grill. They are both very motivated and their English is improving every day,” said Heather. “We’ve become good friends. We look forward to spending more dinners with them and inviting them into other areas of our lives.”

“I don’t have the right words to thank the (Good Neighbor) volunteers for all they’ve done. They are like a big family that includes us,” said Homam.

A beautiful handwritten note from Alaa and Homam about their friendship with their Good Neighbor team.











If you would like to hire Alaa to cater your next meal, email her at or call her at 651-353-7692 or 651-353-7859.


Watch the video below to see some of Alaa’s catering offerings.