Surprise wedding reception for Syrian refugees in Saskatoon
Couple fled Syria 10 days after marriage
A group of friends and strangers in Saskatoon came together to throw a surprise wedding party for a young Syrian couple.
Ten days after Mohamad Al-Noury, 21, and Athar Farroukh, 23, were married in Syria they had to leave their country because of bombing. They spent time in refugee camps in Lebanon before coming to Saskatoon about a year ago as refugees. Members of their immediate families are still overseas.
CBC News reporter Eman Bare met the couple while researching a story about refugee and mental health.
"I started taking pictures of them towards the end [of our interview] for my story and the woman, Athar, said that, 'I never got to have wedding pictures.' I just started thinking, and I said, 'Well I have a camera. If you want tomorrow, I can take a couple wedding-type pictures for you.'"
Bare put a post on Facebook, mentioning that plan, and soon several individuals and businesses offered to throw a surprise party for the couple.
One woman donated a wedding dress for Farroukh and a suit for Al-Noury. Another made a wedding cake. The Delta Bessborough donated a banquet room for the reception.
Bare helped pull the event together with the help of her friends, including Nadia Hamad.
"Having this party ... having people show up and clap and dance is something we can do to uplift their spirits [and] put a smile on their face, why not?" Hamad said.
Bare told the bride about the party just a few minutes before she entered the room. The couple had invited a few of their friends to the photo shoot. Combined with strangers who came to support them, about 50 people were at the reception.
The couple spoke through an interpreter.
"We're blessed that we're in Saskatoon and we've seen a lot of great things and met a lot of great people and it's a dream come true for us," Farroukh said.
Al-Noury explained that they were high school sweethearts. He added the event was the first time he wore a suit.
"It's a very great feeling to share this with the people here," Farroukh said, adding he was was moved by the kindness of complete strangers. "Even though we don't know each other we were able to kind of pull together."