Ahmad Sami Almahlul and his family have been in Moncton for just a week — a far cry from their life in Turkey, where they fled to escape the war in Syria.
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Now, with his wife and their four children safe in this small, two–bedroom apartment, Ahmad says through an interpreter he couldn't be happier.
"MAGMA picked us up from the airport and brought us here. They provided us with beds, furniture, food," he said.
"Everything was very nice. I didn't expect such a warm welcome and to see so many smiling faces. Everything is fine and things are going well."
'I'm the same as any father ... I want my children to be educated, to be happy in life and reach their goals.' - Ahmad Sami Almahlul, Syrian refugee, through a translator
Ahmad is an Arabic grammar teacher by training and once his family is settled in Moncton, he says he hopes to share those skills with other Syrian families.
"This first step is to make sure we learn to speak English well. After that, I have a lot of things to consider. I might open an Arabic grammar school so the children don't lose their language," he said.
However, some Canadian traditions may take getting used to. Nine year-old Wajd says she can't wait to start school and to meet her new classmates.
She says, also via an interpreter, her favourite subject is science, but what's her favourite thing about Canada?
"Snow," she said.
The family is still getting accustomed to their new surroundings and Ahmad says the relief at being in a safe place is also tinged with sadness.
"Of course there's sadness. I had to leave the country I lived in for 42 years. My family is from there and I left that all behind. But I chose Canada because it's a safe country without the problems of war and to make a good life for my children, " he said.
Though he is still a newcomer, Ahmad says he shares the hopes and dreams of most Canadian parents.
"I'm the same as any father, either Canadian or Syrian. I want my children to be educated, to be happy in life and reach their goals."
Ahmad and his family received $840 for the first week they were in Moncton. They now receive just over $1,000 a month for the family of six.
He says they appreciate the warm clothing they've received from local residents and organizations, but above all, they're grateful for the warm welcome.
A previous version of this story stated Ahmad and his family get about $800 a week to cover their living expenses. This was based on incorrect information. The family received $840 for the first week, then just over $1000 per month in financial assistance.Jan 30, 2016 4:24 PM AT