Our Refugee Family Update

Sep 4, 2016 by

Notes from the Refugee Sponsorship Committee:

After many months of planning and preparation ‘our’ Syrian family arrived at Pearson Airport on July 19 and, immediately, they were no longer ‘refugees’ but ‘newcomers’!

They are the Al Atmeh family – Ahmad & Randa are the parents of two sons – Saleh, age 6, Ibrahim age 5 and daughter Sham, age 20 months.

The process through the airport was smooth, if long, and they were soon whisked to Hamilton and settled into their home at the Beverly Hills apartment building in Westdale. Of course every interaction has needed to be conducted through an Arabic speaking interpreter. We have been blessed with willing help from a number of interpreters, including our own Faye Meshki. Faye’s first language is Aramaic, but her schooling was in Arabic. It has been great to access her skill which she has made readily available.

To date the family have attended an appointment at the local office of the Ministry of Immigration and completed all their medical assessments. They have been informed about the nature of the BVOR sponsorship and the role of our two congregations. They have learned about the sponsorship budget and have opened a bank account. Ahmed has undergone his language assessment and he began English language classes in August. Saleh has also completed an educational assessment and he and Ibrahim will start school at Cootes Paradise School at the beginning of term. Both boys have been found bikes through the Good Shepherd Hope bike program.

The family soon met other Syrian families who live in the same building, and quickly discovered the children’s park at Churchill Fields, where they have spent a lot of time. In early August some members of the committee went with the family for a picnic at Hamilton’s Harbour Park. The highlight was taking a trip around the harbour itself on a glorious Summer evening. Today, Walter from Burlington Baptist Church will host a picnic in his garden for the Al Atmehs, the committee, the interpreters and some volunteers.

We look forward to introducing them to everyone from both congregations, after they get a bit more settled. Ahmad and Randa told one of our interpreters that they are overwhelmed and appreciative of the welcoming nature of the Canadians they have met.

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