Syrian refugee already volunteering after just 3 weeks in Charlottetown

Syrian refugee Fayyad Abdulhi just arrived in P.E.I. with his wife and nine children, and is already doing what he loved doing back home: volunteering at the Farm Centre Legacy Garden.

'I cannot sit down. Always I do this, do this, do this,' says Fayyad Abdulhi

Fayyad Abdulhi used to do a lot of gardening back in his war-ravaged town in Syria; now he's volunteering at the Legacy garden in Charlottetown. (CBC)

A Syrian refugee who has just arrived in P.E.I. with his wife and nine children is already doing what he loved doing back home: working in the garden.

Fayyad Abdulhi is volunteering at the Farm Centre Legacy Garden on University Avenue in Charlottetown, which supplies the local food bank, homeless, and women's shelters with healthy organic vegetables, fruit, and herbs.

He's only been in the city for 21 days, but as he told Island Morning's Pat Martel he's always willing to pitch in on a job.

"I like work very much, in the garden, in my house, I like work," said Abdulhi. "I cannot sit down. Always I do this, do this, do this."

Refugee camp for 3 years

It's been a long time since he could work, as Abdulhi and his family were forced to flee his village in Syria three years ago, ending up in a refugee camp in Turkey.

Abdulhi says he always wants to work, and for the past three years hasn't been able to, living in a Turkish refugee camp. (CBC)
"In the camp I cannot go any place. There's not any work, except play football, basketball," he said. "Here it's a freedom. I can go to this garden, I can go shopping."

Abdulhi said his hometown was a bigger centre than Charlottetown, but is now mostly empty.

"All people in my village are in Turkey, or Lebanon, or Jordan. In Canada, they are in Edmonton or Regina, one family. Far away."

Abdulhi's sole purpose has been to protect his kids, and find a good future for them, he said, and one day, that opportunity arrived in the refugee camp.

"Someone come into the camp: 'If you want to go to Canada, you can write your name.' Yes, I want to write my name."

School most important

Now, his family can finally get an education.

Abdulhi says he chief concern is protecting his children, and that Canada has offered him that freedom. (CBC)
"In Turkey and Syria, they cannot go to school. If you're in Syria, the children's schools, the bombs. If I hear the planes, I go 'Come, come, come' and we go out," he said. "The first day in this place (Charlottetown), my children hear the plane, and go out of house. But this (plane), are my friends! But in Syria, if anyone hear the plane, they go (hide)."

Just three weeks into his new life on the Island, Abdulhi is very clear about the big difference he and his family now enjoy.

"You can go, you can went, you can come back, you can work, you can go to school. It's freedom."

From the Island Morning interview