Sunday, 29 November 2015

The first family member arrived in Canada!

What an exciting week – the first member of the family of eight we are sponsoring, 30-year old Anas, arrived in Toronto a few days ago, tired and very excited at the same time. He did not know what to expect when the plane landed at Pearson Airport – the family did not receive our welcome letter and was not informed that they are being sponsored by private people. The rest of the family is scheduled to leave Beirut in about a week.

Our group’s chair, Andrew, talked to the CBC’sThe Current about Anas’ first few days in Canada:


Various group members spent time with Anas this week to brief him about the next steps and how we will support the family, to show him the apartments we found, to take him to the dentist, shopping or just sight-seeing. He met most of the rest of us at a potluck dinner on Friday. Spending time with Anas has been a real pleasure. He is very sweet, open and warm – as appears to be the whole family, who sent us a heartfelt video message from Lebanon.

We have been overwhelmed by all the support we and Anas’ family have received. Everyone wants to help. Lisa, John and their children, a family we did not know before, offered their beautiful basement apartment to Anas until his family arrives and everyone moves into permanent housing. They treat him like a family member and even took him to their cottage for the week end where he will have a ‘real’ Canadian experience. 

The dentist of one our group members offered free dental work, as Anas arrived with a toothache. The manager of the building the family will move into has been very flexible and accommodating. And a great number of people have been extremely generous with their monetary or in-kind donations.

We can’t thank the interpreters enough who are helping us – most of all Ammar, but also Moustapha and Mahmoud from the Arab community center. 

Technology has been our friend. Smartphones have helped Anas share his first impressions of Canada with his family, and we found apps that have helped us communicate when no interpreter is around, such as google translate and ‘say hi’. 

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