New Brunswick

Crowdfunding campaign launched to reunite Syrian family in Saint John

A former Syrian refugee's dream to bring her parents and two brothers from Jordan to her new home in Saint John is one step closer to reality thanks to a crowdfunding campaign launched on Tuesday.

Community rallies behind newcomer Reham Abazid to help her refugee parents and 2 brothers immigrate

Reham Abazid loves her life in Saint John with her husband, Mohammed, and children Haidar and Rous, but she misses her parents and two brothers, who are living as refugees in Jordan. (Scott Munn)

A former Syrian refugee's dream to bring her parents and two brothers from Jordan to her new home in Saint John is one step closer to reality thanks to a crowdfunding campaign launched Tuesday.

A group of community members working to help reunite Reham Abazid with her family through the federal sponsorship immigration program had already raised about $20,000, but another $10,000 is needed.

"So many people know and like Reham and we just want to invite them to be part of this effort," said committee member Kate Wallace, referring to the GoFundMe campaign called One Family, Together Again.

Abazid, who has mastered English since she arrived in Saint John in late 2015 and now works full time as a translator for the YMCA, helping other newcomers, searches for the words to express just how much it would mean to have her family with her.

A group of volunteers is raising money to help bring Reham Abazid's mother Amira Bajboj, father Mohammad Abazid and brothers Mustafa Abazid and Saad Abazid to Saint John. (Submitted by Reham Abazid)

"I lost many things in my life, but when I arrived to Saint John I [found] everything I lost," she said.

The only thing missing, says the married mother of two, is her extended family.

"I miss them all the time."

Abazid, one of the thousands of Syrians displaced by her war in Syria, lost a son and experienced much violence before landing in Saint John with her sister.

Since then, she has been an active volunteer. Abazid and other Syrian women have cooked for the Outflow shelter, and she organized sales of Syrian food to support refugees in Jordan.

In 2017, she was awarded the YMCA Peace Medal for her contributions.

Abazid credits the kindness the community has shown and her gratitude with her drive to give back.

"They helped me before they [knew] who I [was] and what religion I'm from. They supported me a lot.

"It's magic for me."

Her husband, Mohammed, works full time as a mechanic for Downey Ford. Her children, Haidar, 9, and Rous, 5, are thriving at École Samuel-de-Champlain.

Now, Abazid is eager to share her "forever" home with her father Mohammad Abazid, mother Amira Bajboj, and brothers Mustafa Abazid and Saad Abazid.

Her father, who worked as a truck driver in Syria, cried and didn't sleep for two days when she told him about the sponsorship effort, she said.

He and the others had their first interview at the embassy in Amman, and they're now waiting for a health assessment, Abazid said.

Kate Wallace, left, describes her friend Reham Abazid as one of the the most inspiring people she knows. (Submitted)

Meanwhile, the fundraising is "in the home stretch," through the generosity of businesses and individuals alike, said Wallace.

As of early Tuesday evening, the online campaign had raised more than $2,000.

"Reham is one of the most inspiring people I've ever met," said Wallace. "After surviving the Syrian War, she has embraced her new life in Saint John.

"Our city is so lucky to have her. We want to do everything we can to help her thrive here. And that means reuniting her with her family."  

With files from Information Morning Saint John

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