At this year’s high holiday services, Sharron Kusiar, the Chair of the DJC’s Social Justice Committee delivered this report about the progress of the Syrian newcomer family* that our community is sponsoring and who arrived in March of 2017.
*We have only used first names and left out other details to protect the family’s privacy.
New Year’s Sponsorship Update to the DJC 2017
The family of seven arrived at the end of March and have been in Canada 6 months, which is half way through the 12 month sponsorship period. They are doing very well. They are a positive and resilient family and are steadily moving toward independence.
In early May, they moved into their permanent home, a 3 bedroom apartment, with all the furniture and household items that were so generously donated by our community. They are close to shopping and TTC, which they are managing on their own.
The whole family attended a family camp for the month of July and 4 of the kids later attended a week of day camp at Seneca College which they loved. Some of our team provided additional ESL and math tutoring for the kids over the summer.
Four out of the five children are in school now, while the two year old is in a day care program at the LINC ESL program their Mom, Aleefa, attends. At Family Camp, Salah, the Dad, who has been a chef for 25 years, learned of a program geared to prepare Syrian refugees for employment in the food industry. On his own initiative, he registered for the program, has completed it and is now in the volunteer placement phase. His English skills are progressing very well. Aleefa’s English is also coming along, and she just started the same Food Handling course in which Salah is enrolled. If all goes well, she is considering doing some catering from home.
The kids, who were out of school for a long time while they lived in Iraq, are very positive about school and eager to learn. When I asked what their favorite part of school was, the oldest said “soccer”, while the two middle ones said “learning”. The 3 older children will be involved in soccer and art programs at their local community centre this fall.
Their lives are busy and they are continuously learning how to manage daily life here in Canada on their own.
While we initially had almost daily contact with the family, our settlement team now has at least weekly contact with the family to check in or provide support.
Salah has told us that he and Aleefa were very surprised to get so much help from our settlement team. He said they are very grateful for everything we are doing to support them and feel very accepted by us. He indicated that they have faced discrimination in the past as Kurds and as refugees, but now feel at home and safe here in Toronto. They especially enjoyed the Welcome Picnic that was held in their honour on September 8th by the DJC community in Withrow Park.
As you might imagine with a family of five kids, some items, such as a TV, have bitten the dust and others are worn out. Please check the DJC e-blast for links to our blog with updates on the family’s progress.
If you have questions, contact: djcSocialJustice@gmail.com.
Sharron Kusiar, on behalf of the DJC Social Justice Committee