‘We have a house now’: Donations help Syrian refugees settle in Edmonton

Click to play video: 'Settling Syrians in Edmonton' Settling Syrians in Edmonton
Julia Wong reports on the acts of generous Edmontonians making Syrian refugees feel at home in our city – Jan 9, 2016

EDMONTON – Volunteers and Syrian refugees in Edmonton say they are humbled by the generosity of residents in helping them settle in their new city.

On Saturday, volunteers drove around the city picking up furniture and other household items being donated to help Basem Alabd Alrahim and his family.

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Alabd Alrahim, his wife, their two daughters and his mother-in-law fled Syria approximately six months ago due to the civil war. The family lived in Lebanon until a relative was able to sponsor them and bring them to Canada. They arrived in Edmonton on New Year’s Eve.

When Burke Perry and his friends heard about the family, he said they wanted to do something tangible to help the family assimilate into their new country.

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“We’ve helped [the] family find a home that’s suitable. We shared our story with lots of friends and everyone’s just pitching in,” he said.

Perry said there have been offers to donate furniture, clothing, towels and housewares from friends, families and businesses.

Volunteers discuss where items should be put in the cube van. Julia Wong/Global News
Basem Alabd Alrahim carries a bag of cushions. Julia Wong/Global News
A cube van backs up onto a driveway so donations can be loaded up. Julia Wong/Global News
Julia Wong/Global News

“A local business in town loaned us their cube van and we’re doing our rounds, picking up furniture and we hope to have the family settled in their new home by the middle of this upcoming week.”

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Perry said the generosity he has seen has been overwhelming.

“It’s a really heartwarming experience to know there’s that many people who will step to the plate and help us out,” he said.

READ MORE: Syrian refugees pepper sprayed in Vancouver

Kevin Luft and his family donated two loveseats and a set of rugs for Alabd Alrahim and his family.

“Instead of trying to sell it, it’s just nice to give it to somebody who really needs it,” he said.

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Alabd Alrahim, who helped move and load the furniture, said it is exciting to see the offers of help and donation roll in.

“I feel I’m very happy. My family will be happy and my daughters,” he said.

As for Luft, he said he hopes the contributions of furniture will play a bigger role in helping Syrian families like Alabd Alrahim feel comfortable in Canada.

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“It’s nice to know you’re giving that little bit of help and if everybody pitches in, I’m sure they’ll do just fine here.”

Over in Park Allen, Danielle Groten and five friends who are sponsoring a Syrian couple are doing final preparations.

This group is looking forward to meeting the Syrian couple they are sponsoring. Julia Wong/Global News

The group found out Thursday the couple, a woman aged 36 years old and a man aged 42 years old, is arriving in Edmonton on Monday afternoon. They are spending this weekend working on a basement suite where the couple will live.

“We’re cleaning everything, setting everything up, organizing everything they need to move in right away and get started,” Groten said.

Groten said friends, family and even strangers helped them furnish the suite for the couple.

“We had a bed donated. We had a couch donated, lots of furniture, lots of nice, new kitchenware. People were really generous,” she said.

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Groten said the group is excited to finally meet the couple, who they will be financially responsible for for a year.

“I think we’re all anxious [that] they’re going to feel welcomed and safe, that the community will take them in,” she said.

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