Massive 'outpouring of love and support' for Syrian refugee after 2000 plants decimated by vandals

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An "outpouring of love and support" has rolled in for a Syrian refugee family after vandals ransacked over 2000 painstakingly-grown plants that were to be sold at market, leaving just an eighth salvageable. 

Former Syrian refugee Khaled Al Jouja came home to find vandals had ransacked his thousands of potted plants.

Former Syrian refugee Khaled Al Jouja came home to find vandals had ransacked his thousands of potted plants.

Source: Facebook/The Common Unity Project Aotearoa

Khaled Al Jouja was a specialist gardener in now war-torn Syria, but resettled in Lower Hutt last year where he grows food for children through the charity, The Common Unity Project Aotearoa.

He recently launched a pop-up nursery so he could be self-employed. 

He's tasked with the production of food that is then turned into meals "for those who need it most," says founder Julia Milne, which is fitting for a man who has his "heart and soul in growing".

Khaled Al Jouja with his plants before vandals ransacked his backyard.

Khaled Al Jouja with his plants before vandals ransacked his backyard.

Source: Facebook/The Common Unity Project Aotearoa

She said Mr Al Jouja had finished perfecting the plants about a month ago, with with many taking about a year to develop. 

Over 2000 plants had carefully grown. Only 250 could be saved after the vandals were done with his backyard on Tuesday. 

Ms Milne posted on Facebook asking for any donations of potting mix "to help to rebuild, regrow and restore his faith in his new homeland". 

But Mr Al Jouja's story turned into an "enourmous outpouring of love and support" for the family. 

Donations of soil, seeds and money have begun pouring in, with Ms Milne keeping the final dollar amount a surprise until Saturday, where they are hosting a community event to help "get Khaled growing again". 

"This is kind of the worst of times and the best of time for Khaled," Ms Milne said. 

Syrian refugee after 2,000 plants decimated by vandals

Source: 1 NEWS

"People from all around the world have been donating and getting in touch."

Donations are even coming in from pre-schoolers, who have been growing seeds from their New World Little Garden kits.  

She said it's turned into a celebration of refugees and migrants in the community, "and really recognising their value and importance and the work they do to integrate themselves". 

"New Zelanders have beautiful, generous, gorgeous hearts," Ms Milne said. 

The donations would all go directly to Mr Al Jouja, providing him with his "dream greenhouse". 

The 'Potting up for Khaled' event is this Saturday, at The ReMakery in Lower Hutt. 

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