Windsor·Refugee Rising

Syrian newcomer balances books and burgeoning family

Life in Canada hasn’t been easy for Ayman Eid but the Syrian refugee who fled bullets and bombs is now balancing books and a burgeoning family.

Ayman Eid went back to school and now works as a payroll specialist

Syrian refugee Maral Khokaz holds her 4-year-old son Sarkis and her nine-month-old son Andrew, who was born in Windsor. (Meg Roberts/CBC News)

Life in Canada hasn't been easy for Ayman Eid but the Syrian refugee who fled bullets and bombs is now balancing books and a burgeoning family.

Eid fled Syria for Lebanon in 2015 when terrorists invaded his city and a bomb destroyed the house he and his brother had spent their savings renovating.

"It was so sad," said Eid. "It was awful."

Ayman Eid, a Syrian refugee, holds his son Andrew who was born in Windsor about nine months ago. (Meg Roberts/CBC News)

He made the decision to flee with his wife and infant son as he surveyed the rubble and arrived in Windsor about a year and a half ago via a private sponsorship backed by his cousin.

Eid has a degree in accounting in Syria but the paper carried little weight in his adopted country. He landed a job on the line at a metal factory in LaSalle and bicycled an hour to and from work each day. He didn't like it but he didn't give up.

"I decided not to go to welfare because I wanted to be an active member in society so I don't want just to stay at home and get money so that is why I prefer to work," he said.  "That gave me more motivation to work towards my career."

While toiling in the factory, Eid moonlighted at TriOS college for accounting and payroll. He graduated with 99 per cent. Two months later, he got a job at Accutax Services, working as an accounting and payroll specialist.

Ayman Eid graduated from Trios College and landed a job as a payroll specialist. "I was so happy when I was hired in this field," he said. (Meg Roberts)

"I was so happy when I was hired in this field," said Eid.

Eid's wife Maral Khokaz shares her husband's ambition and struggles to forget the violence that uprooted her young family and their fledgling dreams.

"I don't want to remember my life back home," she said.

She was working at a telecommunications company and in her third year of university when her family fled the conflict in Syria. She is focused on raising her two young sons now but will finish her post-secondary education when they get older.

"I would like to work in a bank, I like to do a customer service job," Khokaz said. "I don't like to stay at home."

Sarkis, 4, has had a difficult time adjusting to the family's new life in Canada but is making progress. (Meg Roberts/CBC News)

Her four-year-old son, Sarkis, born in Syria, struggles with school, which he started this month. He has difficulty adjusting to a new language and surroundings and only attends school part time because he tires so quickly.

Her second child Andrew, was born in Windsor nine months ago. His birth was an "exciting" moment for his proud new Canadian parents.

"Everything is good … I feel like I am in my home," Khokaz said.

She wipes away some spittle from her baby Andrew's teething mouth and beams as she studies his smiling face.

"I think he is so happy all the time because he is Canadian," she said.

Andrew was born in Canada to Syrian refugee parents nine months ago. His mother says he is so happy all the time because he is Canadian.

About the Author

Meg Roberts is a video journalist with CBC Newfoundland and Labrador, based in St. John's. Email her at meg.roberts@cbc.ca.