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Airbnb Helps House Yemeni Refugee Seeking American Dream

By Andrea Flores

DENVER (CBS4) - There's nothing more American than Super Bowl Sunday, and most American spent the evening watching the game with friends and family.

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But 23-year-old Zak, a refugee from Yemen, never imagined he's be watching a game he doesn't understand, with people he just met, in a country he never expected to be in.

(credit: CBS)

"I just made it [at] the perfect time honestly," Zak said.

His American dream is to become a fashion designer.

"In Yemen there is no future," said Zak.

The Yemeni refugee landed in Denver one day before President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order on immigration.

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The order bans travel to the U.S. by immigrants and refugees from seven mostly Muslim countries, including Yemen.

"It's cruel, actually," Zak said.

While Zak had plans to live in an apartment with other refugees, the ban kept them from getting into America.

"It breaks my heart," Zak said. "Now they are stuck in Egypt; they cannot go anywhere."

Left without roommates, the International Rescue Committee asked Airbnb for help. Last week, Airbnb's CEO Brian Chesky announced the company would provide temporary housing to refugees and immigrants affected by the ban free of charge.

Susan, Zak's Airbnb host, says he quickly got acquainted with his new home.

(credit: CBS)

"We were told we'd be welcoming a young man from Yemen who was 23 and that's all we knew," said Susan. "Zak was pretty excited about the Wi-Fi and cable."

Susan is glad he now has a chance at his American dream.

"I hope that Zak feels at home, and that Denver and the state of Colorado is a welcoming place, a place where he can develop roots and wings," Susan said.

Even though they were once worlds apart, Zak and Susan now have a friendship that's unbreakable.

"I'm lucky, honestly," Zak said. "I'm really lucky."

If you are interested in hosting refugees, and people affected by the travel ban, visit Airbnb's website.

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Andrea Flores is a reporter for CBS4. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @AndreaFloresTV.

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