In an apartment near Mooney's Bay, tiny, five-day-old Zain Alqaddor sleeps peacefully in the arms of his mother Naima Mohammad Falah.
The baby was born in the Ottawa Hospital just two months after his family arrived in Ottawa, having fled the bloodshed and daily terrors of their homeland, Syria.
Baby Zain is believed to be the first child born in Ottawa to a family that arrived in the recent wave of refugees from Syria.
The government-sponsored family of six now live in a quiet, immaculately-kept two-bedroom apartment in the city's south end. The two eldest children are already attending public school, and the third child will enter kindergarten next September.
'Everything that is beautiful'
"They can actually live peacefully here. They can go to school and have a future," Falah said through an interpreter. She added her Canadian-born son is "a symbol for optimism, peace of mind and everything that is beautiful."
Zain's father Alman Alqaddor, also speaking through an interpreter, spoke about the dire conditions that compelled the family to abandon their home town of Daraa in southern Syrian — how the constant bombing and the sight of dead bodies in the streets caused his children to wet their beds and wake up screaming in the middle of the night.
The family spent two years in Jordan — part of the time in a refugee camp, waiting to be resettled. Falah said it was difficult being pregnant with so much uncertainty in their lives.
"We knew we were alive today, but God knows where we would be tomorrow."
Baby boom expected
Local organizations that offer prenatal care and support to low income families are gearing up for a small baby boom as a result of the influx of Syrian refugees, who traditionally have larger families than Canadian-born parents. Over the weekend, Mothercraft Ottawa trained nine Arabic volunteers in anticipation of the growing need.
The family says the Canadians they've met have been welcoming and helpful, giving them clothing and diapers for the baby. The family is expecting a new cradle to be delivered by a volunteer tomorrow.
They miss their extended family and friends still in Syria, Falah said. But she said she's thankful for the help and friendship of the Canadian people.