It's been a long road from Zabadani, Syria to Bedeque, P.E.I. for Bassam Antoun and his family.
The family was forced to flee in 2012 from war-torn Zabadani, a city of 26,000 hit hard hard by the Syrian civil war.
Antoun, along with his wife and three children fled to Damascus where they would live for a year before packing up their few belongings and relocating to Lebanon.
War destroyed everything
Now, with the assistance of the Bedeque and Area Newcomers Relocation Committee, the family is settling into their new home, restarting their life in Canada.
"We had a long journey, a hard journey," Antoun said through his daughter Rosaline, who was taught English in school in Syria. "We were living a very good life in Syria, and a very happy life before the war. The war came and destroyed everything."
The family arrived in Charlottetown December 18, and were met by Antoun's brother, Salim.
The two families lived in the same three-storey house in Syria. When war broke out, the families became separated.
Reunited in Canada
Now, they've been reunited, their home back in Syria now completed destroyed.
"It's a difficult thing to leave your home, your relatives, but you have to because when you know there's a bomb, and you don't know the time the bomb come to you, so you just have to like have decisions and go to Canada because you can't live anymore in Syria because there's a lot of bombings," explained 16-year-old Rosaline Antoun, who has started grade 11 at Kinkora Regional High School.
In preparation for their arrival, the Bedeque and Area Newcomers Relocation Committee has been fundraising and preparing to welcome the Antoun family for the last two years.
"There was certainly an openness and willingness, and the news cameras were pointing at that story and a lot of people could just connect with the fact that families are fleeing violence and had compassion for them and just a recognition that there was no reason why we couldn't help," said Randall Affleck, a member of the committee.
Bedeque awaited arrival
The community managed to raise more than $30,000, enough to sponsor the family and provide a home furnished with donations from the community.
"They're just a lovely family to have in the community," Affleck said. "I think they're settling in quite nicely. They certainly appreciate what everybody's helped to do. They came with suitcases full of stuff from ... their belongings from Syria, but no furniture or household items."
Now, that they're in Canada, the family said it can now focus on the things that are most important : learning English and eventually finding work.
For now, the family is just happy to feel safe for the first time in a very long time.
"We have peace here, quiet, we don't have bombs," Rosaline Antoun explained.
The people of Bedeque "are all nice people and they love us a lot and we love them a lot. They just treat us like we are from Canada and we've live in Canada for a long time."
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