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WESTON, Mass. — A few days after her ninth birthday, Jude Almkhlef got an unexpected gift. A stranger dropped off a bouquet of flowers arranged in a rainbow.

An attached note read, “You are loved. You are not alone. The US is a rainbow, thank you for coming here and giving us more color.”


Jude and her family are refugees from Al-Thawrah, Syria, a town some 100 miles east of Aleppo. Their house was destroyed in a government airstrike in 2013, a week after they fled to Turkey. The family came to the US in 2014.

On Jan. 27, a day after Jude’s birthday, President Trump announced a controversial ban on immigrants and refugees coming from seven countries, including Syria. Though they’re now safe in the US, her family worries about being sent back.

Jude has Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy and osteoporosis, which gives her weak muscles and brittle bones. She can’t walk and sometimes has difficulty breathing.


Living in Massachusetts has not been easy for her parents, Reem Alhamad and Ahmad Almkhlef. It has been hard to find work to support Jude and her two brothers, Kaess, 6, and Rodney, 2.

But here, Jude has a chance. Her health care is covered by MassHealth, the state Medicaid program, and she is making great progress at Boston Children’s Hospital.

The family is currently staying in the basement of Dr. Alexandra Haagensen, a physician at the hospital. Local citizens and several organizations are also helping them secure a handicap-accessible apartment and transportation.

“When we come to here, our life started again,” said Alhamad. “Now if we be out of [the] US, we will lose everything again.”

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