Rasha Al Khaled fled her war-torn Syrian home for the promise of a better life for her family in Fermanagh.

11 months after settling here she has spoken of her love of Fermanagh rain, the warm welcome from Fermanagh neighbours and learning English but also of the attacks on some of her friends and how she will only go out if she is accompanied by friends.

Six years ago, in the dead of night, Rasha along with her husband and two sons, the youngest still a baby, walked for six hours from the Syrian city of Homs to cross the Border into Jordan to escape the war. Five years later, with the help of UNICEF, Rasha and her family travelled to Northern Ireland where they were offered a safe home in Enniskillen.

Having lived in Enniskillen now for 11 months, Rasha is thankful for her new home, but leaving some of her family members behind and moving to a new country where she doesn’t speak the language has been challenging.

Welcoming The Impartial Reporter into her home, Rasha, who was dressed in a t-shirt emblazoned with ‘I heart Ireland’ which she covered with a brightly coloured hijab to answer the door, shared her experiences of being a refugee in County Fermanagh.

With the assistance of Google Translate and her neighbour, who has been helping her learn English, Rasha explained that it has taken some time to settle into her new life in Enniskillen.

“My first month here I was very tired and very sad. It’s so far from Syria,” shared Rasha. She explained that when they first arrived in Northern Ireland, they stayed in Belfast for five days before getting a bus along with other Syrian families to Enniskillen. “All the families on the bus were crying,” she added.

Noting that her sister still lives as a refugee in Jordan and the rest of her family are still in Syria, Rasha said: “I haven’t seen my family in seven years, I need to see my mum and sister. My sister is in Jordan and I’m hoping she can come here,” she added.

Now having lived in Enniskillen for almost a year, Rasha is feeling happier, sharing that one of her favourite things about her new home is the rain. “Not big rain but a little,” she added, laughing.

As Arabic is her first language Rasha has been trying to learn English through classes at South West College which at first was not very successful. Starting a new English language class this September, Rasha has seen a big improvement.

“Yes today the teacher was very good.” said Rasha. She explained that she has found that the best way to learn the language is by interacting with locals. She commented that her neighbours in Enniskillen have been particularly helpful in this respect.

“All people here are beautiful,” said Rasha, who enjoys socialising and cooking Syrian dishes for her neighbours.

However, Rasha explained that some other Syrian people living in Enniskillen have faced attacks, where one family had the window of their house broken and a girl had a stone thrown at her for wearing a headscarf.

“I won’t go out on my own,” said Rasha, who only feels comfortable leaving the house when she is accompanied by her family members or neighbours. As a Muslim, Rasha must wear a headscarf in public. “The Quran says you must cover and you must pray,” she said.

Mid-interview there was a knock at the door. Putting her hijab back on to answer it, Rasha greeted her friend Omnia Al Jamos, who is also originally from Homs in Syria. Continuing the conversation about wearing a hijab in public and the reaction to this in Enniskillen, Omnia commented: “All people in the street all the time are surprised, I don’t know why.”

“After one month, sometimes outside the home people would say ‘hello, hi’ just, now all time the children play with ours and talking all the time, we have coffee. The first time worried about the hijab, that it’s okay,” said Omnia, explaining that at first her neighbours were wary of her but now they are good friends.

She continued: “Meet and talk about religion and the person, then you won’t just see the hijab. That’s important.”

“All people are the same but a different culture,” Omnia concluded.