HOUSTON (KTRK) --Mohammed Baro spends twelve hours a day working as a chef at his son's west Houston restaurant, but his real life's work is on the walls outside the kitchen. He painted the murals and the canvases hanging in the restaurant. They are images from his native country, Syria.
He tells us with the assistance of an interpreter, "The paintings describe the tragedy in Syria."
Baro shared with us his family's story of leaving Syria when he was an eight year old boy, to escape political oppression.
"He feels beyond sadness when he sees the news, the news about Syria, and the other thing, he still has family over there," explains the interpreter.
You can see his longing for home in every work of art. He's beyond grateful now to live in Houston; the city is as close to his heart as the place he was born. Baro and his family settled in the United States with the help of YMCA International Services.
Joe Saceric is the Director of Community Relations at YMCA International Services, and explains the services provided to refugee families, "A case worker from the organization will go and help them with some of the things that you and I take for granted, like getting a driver license, where do I register my kids for school."
At St. John's School the YMCA is taking a new step in the program, creating an art exhibit which includes the work of refugee artists like Baro, along with others from Iraq, Yemen, Cuba and Eritrea.
"Many of the artists that we're featuring, in their original countries were professional, and they made a living out of it, here, as with Mohammed, there's another job to pay the bills," said Saceric.
Baro's passion is the art, which he hopes will one day go back to being more than a hobby. He told us through his interpreter how thankful he is to be showing his art again.
"YMCA is helping him to spread the word, that as a refugee, I manage to live my life on my own, without any assistance," said Baro.
The art work is available for viewing and for purchase at the "Triumph of the Human Spirit" art show on Friday, October 7, from 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. at The Campus Center at Saint John's School, 2376 Claremont Lane in Houston.