They fled the violence and turmoil of their home in Homs, Syria.

And while two families, the first Syrian refugees to arrive in Winnipeg , are grateful to be safe, they are struggling to feed their malnourished children. 

Shhade Al Mansour, his wife Houriyeh and their five children arrived in Winnipeg in mid-May. 

Houriyeh is expecting her sixth child and is in her second trimester.

syrian refugee family

The Al Mansour family who arrived in Winnipeg in May, with their five children, from right to left, Khalid, Asma, Omar, Jomana, Maria, and father Shhade Al Mansour and mother Houriyeh Al Saleh, with a sixth child on the way. (Ryan Hicks/CBC )

Speaking through a translator, Tarek Habash of the Syrian Assembly of Manitoba, Shhade Al Mansour said they first fled to Lebanon, then to Winnipeg. 

"He thanks the Canadian people and the Canadian government for sponsoring him as a refugee and for taking him and his family from the bad situation they used to live in," Habash said. 

Habash said Al Mansour was more than relieved to get out of Homs, were bombs blew two of his friends to pieces.

"He had to go and take them with the other people in the neighbourhood to take their bodies in pieces and put them in bags and bury him...He couldn't forget the smell of the blood in the street, the blood of his friends," Habash said. 

Money running short for food, medications for malnourished children

Al Mansour's family has a two bedroom apartment as temporary housing.

They have been given about $5,500, but it's supposed to last until they have permanent housing.

And there are concerns about this children's health - a medical check found they are malnourished.

And there isn't enough money for prescriptions and food.

The family's lack of English is also weighing heavily on them, especially Houriyeh, whose pregnancy has been difficult.

"She feels like she's in prison in here because she can't go out because she's afraid of the language barrier," Habash said. 

Translating for Al Mansour, Habash said that also means Al Mansour can't look for work till classes start in a few months.

"Most of the courses, they start in September, so he wouldn't have anything till September," Habash said. "And without English, he can't find a job."

Habash said the family is getting some help from a counsellor.

He said people in Winnipeg's Syrian community - who arrived here long before the current trouble in the country - are also lending a hand.

"We try to ask people for donations so they can give them so food or clothing because most of these people they left everything behind. They don't have anything with them so they need everything," he said. 

Habash said what worried Al Mansour most is his children's well-being. 

"That's more what concerns him is his kids and how they are going to be trying to be integrated with Canadian society," he said. 

He said Al Mansour wants his children to succeed in their new country.