A Syrian man who arrived in B.C. as a government-assisted refugee last year has fundraised $30,000 to bring his family to Canada.
Mohammed Al Saleh, 26, has had a difficult journey. He says he was detained and tortured for weeks in Syria before coming to Canada as a refugee.
"I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I didn't want to spend one more minute in that country," he said.
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When he fled, he left behind his mother and younger siblings. As soon as he arrived in Canada, Al Saleh got to work trying to figure out how to help his family escape and join him in New Westminster.
Al Saleh thought it would be years before he would be able to save enough money to bring them over as privately sponsored refugees.
But thanks to the generosity of some friendly Canadians, the family reunion is happening a lot sooner.
'That just didn't cut it'
The help came first from Deana Brynildsen, a retired Foreign Affairs employee, who read about Al Saleh's plight in a local paper.
"He said he was going to finish the course he was taking and then get a job, work really hard, save his money and bring his family over in five, six, seven years — but that just didn't cut it for me," said Brynildsen.
She put together a GoFundMe page to raise enough money to support Al Saleh's family financially for their first year in Canada.
Over the first couple of weeks of the campaign, Al Saleh and Brynildsen raised about $18,000. Then came even more good news.
'He's such an amazing person'
Good Samaritans Neale Genereux and Kelly Shkuratoff found Al Saleh's story online. They were so moved by his plight, they chipped in the rest of the money he needed to reach his goal — close to $12,000.
"His mom's a teacher and his sister was starting engineering, and our family is almost entirely teachers and engineers. We're engineers ourselves. The family just resonated for us," said Shkuratoff.
The couple says they're looking forward to getting to know Al Saleh and his family better.
"He's such an amazing person, we hope to spend some time with him while he's going through this process," said Neale Genereux.
Al Saleh says he still has to fill out the paperwork to privately sponsor his family, but hopes to bring them to Canada as early as next year.
"This is something phenomenal! I couldn't think of a better word," said Al Saleh.