Friday January 08, 2016

Meet the people who are changing the face of Altona

(Kaj Hasselriis/DNTO)

Doaa

(Kaj Hasselriis/DNTO)

Doaa Abukhousa

Nineteen-year-old translator for the Syrian refugees. She's been nicknamed the "Princess of Altona."

'In Altona, whenever you need help, you can go ask your neighbour, you can go ask your friend. Here, it's like one family. You can ask for help and they'll help you.' - Doaa Abukhousa

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Ray Loewen

(Kaj Hasselriis/DNTO)

Ray Loewen

Car dealer and founder of Build a Village, which has raised over $1 million and sponsored 25 refugee families to come to Altona.

'As Christians we're called on to welcome the stranger and to love our neighbour. I can't think of a better way of welcoming somebody who we would call a stranger and loving our neighbour than by welcoming a refugee family into our community.' - Ray Loewen

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Quilt people

(Kaj Hasselriis/DNTO)

Florence, Margaret and Diane

They call themselves the "Compassionate Quilters."

'They're all handmade with donated fabric from people who want to help.' - Florence

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Newcomers

(Kaj Hasselriis/DNTO)

Kabutu Mika, Abdoul Toure, Bong Rantael and Ibrahim Mika

Mika is originally from the Congo and Rantael is from the Philippines. They're trying to convince their friend, Toure, from Mali and Ibrahim Mika, to move from Winnipeg to Altona.

'They have a place they call a food bank, in the church. An old man came to me, he greeted me, he welcomed me and he held me and said 'Welcome! I like that you're here and I like your height.' And he made me feel very comfortable.' - Abdoul Toure

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Andrea Neufeld

(Kaj Hasselriis/DNTO)

Andrea Neufeld

Doaa's junior high teacher. She's lived in Altona with her family for 20 years.

'Sometimes our community has gotten some negative attention around their judgments of others and so I think this situation has shown the world that we can be an open, caring community.' - Andrea Neufeld

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Emily Dyck and Doaa

(Kaj Hasselriis/DNTO)

Emily Dyck and Doaa Abukhousa

Nineteen-year-old friends since they were both 14.

'Being around Doaa gives me wanderlust. You want to travel. I would say she's made me more open-minded. I've really learned to look at people in a new way. I don't see race or religion or colour.' - Emily Dyck

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Filipino dad and his son

(Kaj Hasselriis/DNTO)

Erwin Mamangon and son Rhyco

Mamangon is a level 2 operator at Friesens printing plant and Rhyco, his son, is in grade 4. They came from the Philippines four years ago.

'I have one boy and a beautiful wife. This is a nice place. Altona is a nice town.' - Erwin Mamangon

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Melvin Klassen

(Kaj Hasselriis/DNTO)

Mayor Melvin Klassen

Mayor of Altona since 2002.

'We've had a lot of cultures come in and they've certainly improved the town. We work together to make sure that we're seen as a progressive, united community.' - Melvin Klassen

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Jay Siemens

(Kaj Hasselriis/DNTO)

Jay Siemens

Twenty-three-year-old photographer who created a fundraising calendar that raised over $20,000 for local refugee families.

'Eight hundred of them sold before it was even finished....it's a pretty crazy feeling.' - Jay Siemens

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Doaa and her dad

(Kaj Hasselriis/DNTO)

Doaa Abukhousa and her dad, Ziad

The Palestinian family came from Syria to Altona six years ago as refugees from Iraq.

'What's so special about this community? They have that big smile on their face. Even if you don't know how to speak English and they don't know how to speak Arabic, you can know from the smile and I really like that.' - Doaa Abukhousa