Syrian refugees: Bridgewater welcomes family of 5 fleeing war

The first family of Syrian refugees in Lunenburg County is settling into their new life in the town of Bridgewater.

Mohamed and Fadya Al-Kafri fled their home city of Daraa 3 years ago

Syrian refugees Mohamed and Fadya Al-Kafri and their three children, Fatima, Farah and Amir, were privately sponsored by a Roman Catholic church in Bridgewater. (Shaina Luck/CBC)

The first family of Syrian refugees in Lunenburg County is settling into their new life in the town of Bridgewater.

Mohamed and Fadya Al-Kafri landed in Halifax Monday night with their two girls, Fatima and Farah, and their son Amir.

"It was beautiful," the family said through a translator about their first impression of their new home.

They do not yet speak English, but say their first priorities will be to put their children in school, to learn the language and to find employment. 

The Al-Kafri's home city of Daraa has seen heavy conflict in the Syrian civil war, and the family fled the country three years ago. Through Mohamed Elkateb of Maitland, N.S.,who is acting as the family's interpreter, they said their choices for staying in Syria were bleak. 

"Either leave, or die or starve to death. It really is bad in Syria at that time," said Elkateb. 

The family thanks Canada and particularly their sponsors in the Bridgewater area. The family was privately sponsored by a Roman Catholic church in Bridgewater. 

John MacDonald is the chair of the St. Joseph's Syrian Refugee Sponsorship committee. The parish of several hundred families began to fundraise in October to aid a family from Syria and successfully gathered $23,000.

"It was stunning. I knew that people would be generous, but this was beyond expectations. It really was," said MacDonald. 

MacDonald says the group was notified of the Al-Kafris's arrival only last week. 

"We had less than 48 hours notice, so it happened that quickly," he said. "Luckily, we had made our preparations. So we were basically prepared for them." 

The Al-Kafris are staying with a parishioner for now, but next week they will move into an apartment, assisted by funds raised by the sponsorship committee.

The committee also has enough money left over that it is considering sponsoring a second family from Syria in the coming months. 

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