PEI

Syrian family embracing new life in small P.E.I. community

After only three weeks on P.E.I., a family from Syria is settling into their new home in Kensington, after the war in their home country made it impossible to stay there.

Parents ready to work, pay taxes and give back

Maldaa Al Nahas Alhomsi and Mohammed Albrzawi and their children at the airport in Frankfurt on their way to their new home in Kensington, P.E.I.

After only three weeks on P.E.I., a family from Syria is settling into their new home in Kensington, after the war in their home country made it impossible to stay there. 

Mohammed Albrzawi said he, his wife, Maldaa Al Nahas Alhomsi, and two children, fled from Syria to Turkey, where they learned they would be moving to Canada.  

"It felt like I was drowning in this Mediterranean Sea and a hand reached out for me in the water and just pulled me out of that water, out of that deadly sea and rescued me."

"It was a nice feeling and then we had that OK, we are going to make it to Canada, we're going to go to Canada."   

But the family spent two years in Turkey before they were able to make that move, with the help of the Kensington Area Refugee Sponsorship Initiative. 

Small and quiet

Albrzawi said he googled Kensington to see what it was like after being told that's where they would be settled. 

"It was quiet, small and country type," he said, a big change after living in large cities.  

"We've always dreamed to have, like a house, a garden, you know, the slow beat of life, not too busy."   

Alhomsi said she's happy to be in a place where they can make a good future for their children. 

"They are also so excited to come here and just have friends and they want learn English as fast as they can." 

The couple and their children, ages six and nine, are settling in, and Albrzawi has already found a job.

New jobs

Albrzawi worked as an English teacher while the family lived in Turkey, but he was a florist in Syria, and now he's going back to his roots working in a flower shop in Summerside. 

Alhomsi is an accountant, and hopes to take some refresher courses to help her get a job in her profession on the island.

"That would be awesome for me." 

Ready to give back

But as excited as the family is to get on with their new life, they say their sponsorship group is cautioning them to slow down.

Maldaa Al Nahas Alhomsi and Mohammed Albrzawi and their children stand with local students after arriving in Kensington.

"Maybe we are rushing a little bit, our sponsors told us to take it easy, to relax but we want to prove to everyone OK we're refugees, we're coming here to Canada but we can be part of this community." 

Albrzawi said their happiness will be complete when they get their first pay cheques and they have paid taxes just like everyone else. 

The couple said thus far, people in the community have been welcoming and supportive and they have had great interactions. 

"It's better than a big city because in big cities you might be just lost and nobody will care about you, nobody will communicate with you but here everybody is so friendly, they are just trying to help you [with] whatever you want," Alhomsi said.  

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With files from Island Morning

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