As soon as he set foot in England, Mouhyedin Alkhalil swore to himself that he would work as hard as he could to give something back to the Government and the people who had helped him along his gruelling journey to safety.
The 26-year-old hopes that the launch of his company – Falafel Fella – will be the beginning of a new venture that will eventually enable him to give opportunities and employment to others.
This weekend, he will trade for the first time at Darlington’s World Food Market, selling falafels and desserts created using traditional Syrian recipes, handed down via Skype from Mr Alkhalil’s mother and sister.
The dishes, he says, remind him of a home that is always in his heart, a home he was forced to flee in the dead of night.
Facing forced enlistment into President Bashar al-Assad’s army, he was told one night by his loving parents that arrangements had been made for him to leave his war-torn country and, without time for goodbyes, he then embarked upon a tough and lonely journey that would see him spend a difficult period struggling to thrive in the Lebanon before the United Nations gave him the opportunity to move to the UK under a vulnerable persons resettlement programme.