New Syrian refugee family enjoys Canadian Ramadan celebration meal
Guests at Saturday's dinner included Halifax mayor Mike Savage, university presidents and local priests
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan continues and a special meal was held at a Halifax area Islamic centre Saturday night, but it was especially meaningful for one family from Syria.
The Al Hraki family can't say exactly when they arrived in Canada. They think it may have been four or five days ago, but because of jet lag their memories are fuzzy.
A transatlantic journey is difficult enough, but during Ramadan when the faithful must fast from dawn to sunset, it presents an extra challenge.
Ahmed Al Hraki is a 28-year-old electrician who flew to Canada with his mother, father and 25-year-old brother.
"The challenge began the moment they took the flight from Germany to Toronto because they never went on that long of a flight, nine hours or so," he said through a translator.
"But after that, although the day is long, they are not feeling very hungry and they are adapting very well so far."
The extra long days in Canada, sometimes 18 hours of sunlight this time of the year, are another challenge.
Father Abdelmoulah Al Hraki said it is a long fast during the day, but it balances out with other benefits of being in Canada.
"They are adapting very well," the translator said. "Because the weather here is way better than in their refugee camp. It's way cooler here so they are enjoying that and the fresh air is giving them the energy they need to be productive during the day."
The Al-Rasoul Islamic Centre was hoping to further ease the transition with their Iftar.
Iftar is the evening meal when Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset. Every year the centre plans an interfaith evening where guests from different religions and background meet for a meal and conversation.
Guests at Saturday's dinner included Halifax mayor Mike Savage, university presidents and priests from three nearby churches.
Although he is thousands of kilometres away from Syria, Alaa Al Hraki said the evening had some similarities to Ramadan back home.
"One element in the month of Ramadan is the gatherings of friends and family and that was highly practised with their family in Syria," he said through a translator.
"So for them to come here and still live in these environments and these events, it helps them still feel the spirit of the month and enjoy the company of friends they have just met."
Ramadan is due to end July 5 and after that, members of the Al Hraki family say they look forward to tackling their new life in Canada with full energy.
With files from Stephanie Blanchet