SOFIA — The home of a Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) refugee family living in Bulgaria burned down in an electrical fire, reported Bulgarian news outlet Nova on Tuesday.
The family, originally from Baghdad, have lived and worked in Bulgaria for years.
“The nice house” — that’s what the people of Bogyovtsi village, outside the capital of Sofia, called the home of Linda and Freddy. One of the few items that survived the fire was the couple’s Aramaic-language Bible.
“When things are difficult, sad, I always read from this book. We are all alive and well, thank God,” said Linda Avanis.
The fire was apparently started by an electrical short while Linda, her daughter, and grandchildren were making Christmas cakes.
The firefighters who responded to the blaze used all the water in their trucks trying to extinguish the flames and were forced to drive to a nearby village to refill their tanks.
The Avanis’s neighbors rallied to their support. “I am proud to be from this village,” said Linda. “All the people supported us with clothes because we went out with little, with flip-flops.”
Linda spends much of her time helping refugee women who have recently arrived in Bulgaria, like she once did years ago.
Freddie Avanis is a chef in his own restaurant serving Middle Eastern cuisine.
Too humble to ask for help, they have asked for anyone who wants to help them build a new home to eat at Freddy’s restaurant which can be found in the area of the Women’s Market in Sofia. The restaurant currently only offers home delivery due to the coronavirus pandemic.