A Syrian refugee family’s first day in Montreal
POINTE-SAINT-CHARLES — Three year-old Ahmed Halabi and his little brother, Ayham, couldn’t wait to play in the snow.
They opened the balcony door in their Pointe-Saint-Charles apartment for the first time Tuesday, grabbed a handful of the white stuff, stared at it with marvel and tossed it while sharing a giggle.
It’s a new life of discoveries and joys for them and their parents, Hibba and Jamal Ahmed Halabi.
The Syrian family of four arrived in Montreal Tuesday morning and are learning what their new life is all about.
“I have no worries any more. I am so happy,” Jamal Ahmed Halabi said.
They’re happy for what they have left behind, a life full of fear and hopelessness, the life they were living before coming to Canada.
“For years we were living in a prison, and it was really hard,” Halabi said.
The Halabis fled Syria and moved to Lebanon three years ago, but the endless bombing and insecurity made it impossible for them to hope for a good future for their two boys.
It’s why they applied to become refugees in Canada.
“We were literally dreaming that whole time,” Halabi reminisced.
WATCH: Syrian refugee family plays in the Montreal snow for the first time
It was a dream come true when they found out a few months later a local Canadian company, Fundraising Direct, would sponsor them.
“If it wasn’t for the sponsorship, we would’ve died of starvation,” Halabi said.
The company’s employees spent the weekend preparing to welcome the Halabis into their new home.
“We had the email late on Thursday saying they’d be arriving on Monday,” said Fundraising Direct’s co-founder Abigail Jacob.
“So it was like, ‘OK, find an apartment, get the stuff. What do we have donated?'”
Since the company is financially responsible for the Halabis for a full year, they created “Project Welcome.”
“We’re really asking for donations now, just to help fund their living expenses for the first year,” Jacob said.
It’s a year the Halabis are looking forward to.
“I really want to work and educate ourselves, learn the language,” Halabi said.
But, not without having a little fun first and experiencing the joys of a Canadian winter.
© 2016 Shaw Media