African refugee dad, daughter reunited in Utah for first time since 2004

By Steve Fidel and Peter Rosen

Deseret News

Published: Saturday, June 25 2011 9:00 p.m. MDT

Nura finally emerged through security. Idris had one last delay — he had to produce his identification to satisfy airport security she was in the right hands. Then they were at last together.

Nura's hair was nicely braided. She was wearing a hooded sweater, jeans and tennis shoes. Only the oversize identification papers hanging from a lanyard around her neck set her apart from the flight's domestic passengers.

Idris scooped her up. "She looks good," he said. Her face mostly reflects bewilderment and extreme fatigue.

"Did you recognize me?" She told him, in Arabic, "Of course. You're my dad."

The enthusiasm of the moment had to share the emotional shock of the cameras and strange adults that are part of the reunion.

Even other passengers on the flight stopped to take pictures. Then her single red bag arrived on the baggage carousel, and Idris and Nura are driven away by a man Idris described as a "very good friend."

Nura had joined the ranks of 2,200 refugees who will enter Utah during the year. Each has a story likely to bring their caseworkers to tears.

The next month will continue to be filled with lifetime firsts for Nura.

"I want to take her to Disneyland," Idris said. Tatjana, the IRC coordinator, had a stuffed bear for Nura.

"We will try to spoil her a little bit," she said with smile and a shrug. "In the beginning. Why not?"

Nura's reaction on her arrival was typical for many of the children, said the NRC's Natalie El-Deiry, who was also part of the welcoming group. But the children adapt quickly.

"A month later they come in the office and they are bouncing off the walls," she said.

And for Idris, "I'm excited. I'm happy. So happy. I finally going to be a real dad. Not phone dad," he said. "I'm going to say 'Thanks America.' I want to thank everyone. God bless this country."

e-mail: sfidel@desnews.com, Twitter: SteveFidel

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