WHAT started as a peaceful uprising against the president of Syria eight years ago quickly turned into full-scale war.

The conflict has killed more than 360,000 people and has devastated cities.

Families living at the heart of it all had an almost impossible decision to make - stay in their homes or leave everything behind and find refuge.

In 2013, Mr Al Jamous had to make a choice for himself, his wife and four children.

And he is so thankful he chose for his family to settle in England, and specifically in Colchester.

He preferred not speak about his last memories of Syria as it was so painful and his memory is blurred.

However, he described the time he and his family spent in Jordan trying to escape the fighting.

He said: “I drove from my home to Jordan, which is only an hour’s drive.

“We wanted as a family to be safe from the war.

“I was concerned to get medical care for my eldest son as it was not easily available in Syria. I lost a lot of my relatives.”

Mr Al Jamous, who worked as an accountant in Syria, made an application to the United Nations for refuge status and after a month the family was called for an interview.

They were given refugee status and were able to join other refugee families on a five-hour flight to the UK, 3,000 miles away from Syria and all he knew.

In some ways it was the best news he could have received but it was not easy knowing what he was leaving behind.

He said: “My sister, brother and mum still live there, and my wife’s family.

“My mum records messages for us when the internet is good.

“When we arrived in Jordan we went to the UN for help.

“They gave us a ticket so we could get food, it was £20 per person or £100 for a family per month, it was very difficult for us.

“I absolutely knew we couldn’t stay, it was unsafe for my family.

“It was very difficult but we got an appointment for an interview.

“There are a million refugees in Jordan so it’s difficult for them there.”

They had not been expecting to stay in Jordan for long. but in the end stayed for more than three years.

He said: “We thought we would be there for two months then the war would be finished, and we could go back and I would see my sister and my mum.”

However, with the help of Essex Integration, a charity offering refugee support, the family has successfully set up a new home in Colchester.

A total of 58 Syrian refugees have found refuge through the charity so far.

However, according to the support group Refugee Action Colchester, there are about

200 clients who have made their own way to the UK.

It has been a huge challenge to adapt to life here, but after two years in the UK, Mr Al Jamous wanted to thank the authorities that supported him.

He said: “I like the friendly people and I like that people are, for the most part, law abiding. We receive an education and healthcare.

“I’m happy I’m now self-supporting and I’m no longer dependent on benefits, I can contribute to society and integrate into my new home town.”

After about ten months he found a job as a restaurant delivery driver, and later became a taxi driver - a challenge in itself but he is accomplishing everything he set out to.

He said: “It was difficult at first with the language and how people live, and also the weather.

“But now we have started to integrate.

“For the first two months we didn’t know anyone and we couldn’t understand anything.”

It is a world away from the country he lived in and the country he left, war torn and battle scarred. But Mr Al Jamous is grateful to live in peace.

His most important message was to show appreciation for how this country has accepted him and his family.

He said: “I would like to thank the British government agencies who have made it possible for us to stay here.

“My special thanks go to Essex Integration staff who have made it possible to have a job as a taxi driver, and for all their help and support.

“Finally, we are very happy with our new life.”