Al Atmeh Family Update

Oct 3, 2017 by


One year ago, on July 19, 2016, the Al Atmeh family arrived in Canada as “refugees” from Syria, sponsored by McNeill Baptist Church and Burlington Baptist Church.  This is a report on the progress made by the family as “newcomers” to a new country, language, and culture.

Near the end of July Ahmad and Randa attended an application appointment at Ontario Works.  They received their first O.W. benefits in August, and continue to receive Provincial Child Care benefits.   The combined benefits are comparable to the funds they were receiving from our two churches during our sponsorship.  Our legal and financial obligation as sponsors ended on August 1, 2017.   Nonetheless, we have assured the family that we will continue to support them with advice, friendship, moral and practical support.  As well, the refugee account still has about $10,000, so we can support them if they find themselves in financial difficulty.  We continue to be in close touch with the family and support them as needed.  However, the family is currently self-supporting.

Through the summer Ahmad acquired paid part time work with a landscaper, applying his skill in stone and concrete work.  He has also completed some paid work at MacNeill.  His landscaper employer offered him full time employment, but Ahmad wisely decided to prioritize his daily English language classes. His goal is to achieve Level 5 proficiency and then seek full time employment.  He continues to work on weekends.

Randa attends English language classes while their two-year-old daughter, Sham, is in childcare. Randa looks forward to employment in the field of Hairdressing.  She has researched the education she will need.  While proficiency in English language is developing, we still require some translator assistance. We are thankful for our translator volunteers

The two boys are in school, Saleh in Grade 2 and Ibrahim in Grade 1.  Saleh has settled in well, but Ibrahim is still shy.  The children, with Randa, have attended story time at their local public library and have made friends in their apartment building.

The family continues living in their apartment in west Hamilton. In preparation for the family becoming fully independent Ahmad and Randa added their names to the lease in June.  Al Palin and Walter Mulkewich will have their names removed from the lease in February 2017 and the family will then be fully responsible for their living arrangements.

It is gratifying to see how much progress the family has made in the short time of one year, more than we could have expected – a result of their drive and motivation.  Our two churches have been blessed by this sponsorship. Our thanks to members of both churches and our local communities for your interest and support.

Report submitted by Al Palin, Chair of the MacNeill Baptist Church Newcomer Committee.

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