London·Video

Father and sons stuck in Gaza for two years reunited with family in London, Ont.

After two years, Ola Dahman has finally been reunited with her husband and two sons who were stuck in Gaza waiting for the Canadian government to process the family's permanent resident application. Dahman was pregnant with her daughter when she fled the Palestinian territory in 2019 but didn't expect the reunion to take so long.

A pregnant Ola Dahman fled to Canada in 2019 expecting her sons and husband would follow soon after

London, Ont. family reunites after two-year separation in Gaza

7 months ago
Duration 0:19
The Dahman family is finally reunited in London, Ont. after three members were stuck in Gaza for two years, while the Canadian government processed their permanent residency application. Video submitted by the Dahman family.

After two years, Ola Dahman and her two-year-old daughter, Layan, have finally been reunited with Dahman's husband and two sons who were stuck in Gaza while they waited for the Canadian government to process the family's permanent resident application.

"I'm so happy that they are now with me," said Dahman. "It has been two years, six months, 12 days. But I'm not able to count hours. But if I can't count it, I will mention it."

The family reunited at the London International Airport in London, Ont., last month.

The Dahman family has finally been reunited in London, Ont. (Submitted by Ola Dahman)

"I'm speechless regarding this moment. I even don't remember the details. If I didn't see the video, I don't remember," she said.

Dahman was pregnant with her daughter when she fled the Palestinian territory in 2019 to settle in London, Ont., but didn't expect the reunion to take so long, and was especially worried this past year, when an 11-day war gripped the Gaza strip in May.

Dahman, who has a master's degree in computer engineering and is enrolled in Fanshawe College's Software and Information Systems Testing program, received refugee status in October 2020, 17 months after arriving in Canada. She submitted her permanent residency application for her whole family in November 2020.

Yousef Dahman holds his sister, Layan, for the first time. (Submitted by Ola Dahman)

The airport reunion was the first time her daughter met her father, Mohammed, and her brothers, Yousef, 14 and Anas, 11.

"She's so happy with her brothers," said Dahman. "I was surprised that she got familiar with them right away and the first three days she spent all the day with them. Playing with them and sleeping with them at night."

Dahman said her five-person family has settled into her one-bedroom apartment and her boys are likely to start school this week.

"My apartment has become warm and cozy. And when I hear the noise and their voices, I feel that I'm alive." 

Anas and Layan Dahman meet for the first time. (Submitted by Ola Dahman)

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rebecca Zandbergen

Host, London Morning

Rebecca Zandbergen is from Ottawa and has worked for CBC Radio across the country for more than 20 years, including stops in Iqaluit, Halifax, Windsor and Kelowna. Contact Rebecca at rebecca.zandbergen@cbc.ca

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