First Syrian refugee family comes to Summerside

Ancelene MacKinnon
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The Aldos family meets members of the Summerside Community Church who helped bring them to P.E.I. They are the first Syrian refugee family to come to Summerside, having arrived at the Charlottetown Airport Friday evening.

Coming to Canada once seemed like an unobtainable dream for Medyan Aldos.

The Aldos family walked into the Charlottetown Airport Friday evening not quite knowing what to expect, but that didn’t stop smiles from being on their faces.

Eagerly waiting to greet the Syrian family were members of the Summerside Community Church, who, with the help of volunteers, raised money to sponsor the refugees with some financial assistance from the federal government.

After years of being displaced from their home in Syria due to the ongoing civil war, the family of six is looking forward to starting over in Summerside.

“The kids are very excited to be here,” said the father, Medyan, through the help of translator Mona Yammine, who was hired by the church for the initial meeting.

“We were in Jordan for four years. The kids weren’t happy, and they couldn’t wait to get here.”

“Here is better,” added 10-year-old Shaymaa.

It was a long journey to make it to P.E.I., but that didn’t compare to the anticipation of knowing their new home would be somewhere safe and secure, said Medyan.

He said now that he, his wife Zainav, and their four children are in Canada, they have overcome the hardships they were forced to deal with.

“This is the best moment of our lives to be here.”

Church member Audrey Gee-Arsenault said the family has been expressing how grateful they are to be here.

With assistance of an interpreter and translating applications on their phones, the volunteers have been showing the family around Summerside and helping them adjust.

“They said learning English is number one for them,” said Gee-Arsenault.

“The father is ecstatic for the future. He’s excited to become more independent. He wants to become part of the community, make friends, and welcome people into their home.

“He said he wants to represent Syrians in a nice way,” she added.

Church member Lauren Craig said it’s wonderful to have the family in Summerside.  

“Knowing what they came out of, it feels very good to have them here, and it’s hard for us to imagine what that life would have been like.”

Craig said the mother, Zainav, lost two of her brothers and an uncle in the war.

“They experienced a lot of persecution there (Jordan) and poor treatment because they’re from Syria. The children experienced a lot of hardship at school.”

Craig said the sponsorship process has been hard work but ultimately rewarding.

“Our goal for a family of six was just over $30,000 but half of that is provided by the government and half is provided from the sponsorship group.”

A meet and greet event will take place for the family in the near future.

Medyan’s dream was to come to Canada, and Craig is delighted she and the other volunteers banded together to make it come true.

“There is always a way to help, it’s just a matter of figuring out how and trusting you’re capable of doing it.”

Organizations: Charlottetown Airport, Summerside Community Church

Geographic location: Summerside, Canada, Syria Jordan

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