A Family’s Story

Welcome_FamilyMajed and Rehab grew up in Aleppo, Syria. Majed comes from a family of eight and when they married in 2001, they moved in with his family. In 2002 they started building an addition on top of the small stone house. It took 8 years to complete as Majed paid as he could for the building materials while working in a cotton factory doing maintenance on the machinery. Majed also worked as a cabinet maker making doors and cupboards but the timing was unclear. He said these were the best years of his life. Two months after the addition was complete, they had to leave for Damascus with only the clothes on their backs. He left on his own for Lebanon and the family joined him later.

Life was not easy in Lebanon as the family lived in one small room with a tin roof and one small window. They built a room out of plastic sheets to keep out the cold. They built bonfires outside and brought the coals into the room for some heat. It was very hot in the summer as there was only the one window and the tin roof kept in the heat. Rehab went outside to cook and wash their clothes. The electricity in Lebanon does not exist 7 days a week, 24 hours a day so it was very unreliable.

They had a telephone call from the UN about 2 years ago and a move was discussed. Canada was not mentioned at that time and they thought it could even be a location in Turkey in tents. They heard nothing until 1 year and 3 months later. They had an interview with the Canadian Embassy and were asked the same questions as before. A month later they met with the Visa officer and were approved to come to Canada.

Rehab was reluctant to leave her mother as she is the only girl and the youngest in her family. Her father died 20 years ago and she has a brother in Sudan and a brother in Lebanon. She came to Canada for her children so they would be able to study and be safe. She talks to her mother every day through a free app on the computer so that helps them keep in touch.

When they arrived in Montreal they stayed at a hotel with lots of other Syrian families and translators so they felt comfortable. When they boarded the plane for Fredericton they felt alone and scared as they did not know what to expect. Majed said when they came into the airport and saw the group from the church clapping and waving the flags, they were so happy. They prayed in Lebanon that God would get them to good people and that’s what happened.

Even with the cold this is a wonderful country and the people are so welcoming. They love to have company as it will help them learn English faster. They hope to make us proud and can’t wait to be able to communicate with all the people who have helped them. They keep repeating that they will never be able to thank us enough but I reassured them that our church is so happy they are here and we can’t wait to learn from them.

Majed said the happiest day of his life was when Omar started school as he has been waiting 5 years to go back. He walks him to George St. Middle School and could not believe that someone stands out in the cold to make sure they get across the street safely. The crosswalk guard is a small example of the wonderful things that Canadians take for granted.

Rehab wants to learn English as fast as possible so she can tell “Mama Juliet” how grateful she is for her help. Apparently Sham has become quite attached to her and hates when she leaves. They also are so grateful for the help “Mr. Dallas” has given. They mentioned that many others have helped taking them to appointments, meetings and visiting and they are so grateful for all the help. Since Majed is an avid reader, he really appreciated Peggy dropping off an English/Arabic dictionary.

An expression, Inshallah, (Arabic  إن شاء الله  ), came up often during our meeting and the translator, Rima, said it is very common in the Middle East. It means “God willing”. This seems very appropriate as our church family continues the support needed to help the Alkreiz family adapt to their new home.

…Heather Rutherford

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