Mrs. Aleze and her sons Abdullah and Abdulrahma were among the thousands of refugees who fled Iraq in September 2015 to find peace and opportunity in America. When they arrived they spoke no English and had to find a place to live and schools for the boys to attend. They had to figure out complex processes like finding a job, establishing financial credit and obtaining proper health care.

San Diego receives about 3,000 refugees every year, with a striking majority coming from Iraq, more than any other region in California. Aid agencies have formed strong infrastructure to make the transition easier for refugees, but it’s still difficult.

Abdulla and Abdulrahma, 4 and 7 years old, were having a hard time adjusting to their new life in America. Mrs. Aleze shared her concerns with a friend, another mom who had moved to America from Iraq a few years earlier. The mom suggested Mrs. Aleze bring her sons to the Traveling Stories StoryTent at the farmers market.


Mrs. Aleze and her sons have been visiting the StoryTent every week ever since. Still a bit shy to speak English, Mrs. Aleze stopped us one week and said how thankful she was for the reading program. She said her sons were so sad to leave their friends and family behind in Iraq. The first time she saw them happy in America was at the StoryTent.

Abdulla and Abdulrahma have been reading with us every week for six months now. Abdulla is now reading on his own! The prizes that both brothers earn with their book bucks motivates them to continue reading even when it’s really hard or they think they sound foolish sounding out the tricky English words.