(CNN)-Theirs is an unlikely love story: She is a Muslim refugee from Iraq, he’s a Christian Macedonian border police officer.
But they say it was love at first sight.
One day last March, 20-year-old Noora Arkavazi and her family — her parents, her younger brother and sister — reached the Serbian border. They had left their home in Diyala, Iraq, months earlier, heading to Europe to flee the fighting between ISIS militants and the Iraqi coalition. “We were traveling, like any refugees,” she explains.
Bobi Dodevski was the only officer on shift who spoke English that day.
Noora and Bobi told CNN they fell in love instantly in that first encounter, and in July, they were married. The couple now lives in Kumanovo, in Macedonia.
In the months that followed Bobi and Noora’s fateful meeting, Noora’s family continued on to Germany, where they sought asylum.
She decided to stay in Macedonia with Bobi. She speaks multiple languages and now spends long days working for the Red Cross.
Bobi, who has been a police officer for 15 years, has worked along the border for the last year because of the refugee crisis. His knowledge of English is especially helpful, since he can communicate with more of the refugees passing through.
On the side, he’s also a professional dancer, which is why he learned English. His dance troupe has traveled around the world: to Russia, Spain and Monte Carlo, and speaking English helped.
New love, new life
Noora says she’s been adjusting easily to life in Macedonia.
“The people, the country, the town, they never let me feel like I’m a refugee,” she says.
The community was quick to accept her, and she says her family has been equally accepting of their marriage.
“In Macedonia, we have a mix of tradition and religion,” Bobi explains. “I have many friends who are Muslim, and we celebrate Ramadan.”
Similarly, Noora says she grew up in a diverse community in Iraq. “My family grew up with Christian people, we are open-minded people.”
She explains that her family’s initial hesitation about the relationship disappeared when they saw the couple together and understood how deeply in love with each other they were.
If anything, Bobi says, people were surprised because he had been married twice before. He says people used to joke that he wouldn’t get married for another 100 years, but within a few months of meeting Noora, they were engaged.
The day he proposed, he went to a tattoo parlor and got her name inked on his arm. A few days later, she got a matching tattoo with his name.