Syrian refugees celebrate New Year's with Al-Rasoul Islamic Society
About 30 Syrian refugees were special guests at event to mark the Prophet Muhammad's birth
A group of Syrian refugees celebrated the start of a new year in Canada at an Islamic centre in Bedford.
Sixteen parents and 15 children were treated to gifts at an event at the Al-Rasoul Islamic Society.
Taleb Abidali says members of the organization want to offer support to the newcomers and help ease their transition.
"You never feel you're a stranger here. You're in a beautiful land between your brothers and sisters," he said. "The mosques, the church, the universities, the bank, private sector, everyone wants to do something."
He says the presents were full of necessities for the new arrivals.
"We tried to prepare some basic things like pyjamas for the kids, some jeans, shirts, some clothes and sweets," he said.
The group plans plans to do even more for Syrians in 2016. They're working with the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia to help the newcomers settle into life in the Maritimes.
"They're going to face some kind of cultural shock. It's going to be difficult for them to adapt if they don't have any aid or support. What we're trying to do is extend our welcoming hand in making them feel that they're home," said organizer Hassan Rashed.
Rashed says the group didn't know much about the new faces, but it didn't matter. He says they wanted to welcome all the Syrians, no matter what their faith.
"Our religion instructs us to help everyone regardless of their culture, race or background," he said.
The centre holds events every Thursday but the New Year's Eve gathering was unique.
"This week commemorates the birth of our prophet, the Prophet Muhammad. So tonight we were supposed to have just a celebration on that occasion and tonight we have the refugees so that makes our joy even greater," said Rashed.