Syrian refugee family opens auto repair and sales business on East Lake Road


One immigrant family is living out their American dream, opening a business on East Lake Road with the help of a government program.

The Kari Brothers say they are excited about this new opportunity. They say it took hard work and some help from the Erie International Institute.

“I never thought I was going to be in America, United States, and this was like a dream. I remember when I was a child I was thinking like American is at the top. We don’t know that someday we were going to visit it.” said Rodi Kari.

Rodi Kari says now he feels like he’s at the top. He and his family have become the owners of a new auto sales shop. Kari and his four brothers and father traveled from Turkey to Erie in 2016 through a resettlement program.

Before that in 2013, the family fled to turkey to escape the war in Syria.

“I am very happy that my father is with us and he showed us a direction to go on how to be strong and how to help each other.” Rodi Kari said.

The Kari family came to the United States with some experience owning their own car dealership in Syria.

The United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants of Erie enrolled the family in their Microenterprise Development Program.

The Program Coordinator at the Erie International Institute says these kinds of programs help people new to this country achieve their American dream.

“It’s not only about financial, we work with them one on one and assist with everything. They have a lot of barriers.” said Bassam Dabbah.

This program is not only helping the Kari family start their own local businesses but is also helping Rodi Kari get his Pennsylvania Inspection License.

“They know what the difference between there and here, to be here I mean. You should be very proud and very lucky to have the opportunity.” Dabbah said.

These brothers say they were able to accomplish so much in America and this program can help other immigrants and refugees in the area.

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