SASKATOON – Basem Ahmad didn’t miss a single guest when offering baked goods to people in his apartment Friday. The Syrian refugee is offering his hospitality to the city he adopted as his new home about three weeks ago.
His old home in the city of Daraa is gone.
“The plane war bombed my house,” Ahmad told members of the media gathered in his family’s living room.
With the occasional help of a translator, Ahmad told the story of how his wife gave birth to their daughter Taima, now four years old, the same day the Syrian civil war broke out. He drove her to the hospital while avoiding clashes with government forces.
“The army of Syria was killing everybody,” Ahmad said.
He eventually sent his daughter and wife, who was pregnant with Bara’a, now three, to live in Jordan. He stayed in Syria to see if conditions improved. When they didn’t, Ahmad joined them a month later.
Rehab, one, was born in Jordan.
After spending three-and-a-half years trying to come to Canada, the Ahmad family got its opportunity. They were on a plane with about 300 refugees that landed in Canada.
Zainab Al-Musawi, a settlement counsellor at the Saskatoon Open Door Society, has served every role from interpreter to furniture consultant.
“They are very well. In the beginning, everything will look difficult,” Al-Musawi said.
The Open Door Society also helps Canadians get health cards, bank accounts and other necessities. Typically, the Open Door Society works with refugees for their first three years in Canada, Al-Musawi said.
Once he’s settled in, Ahmad hopes to drive a city bus and live the life his friends have told him about.
“They said to me Canada is very good and you are lucky. God likes me.”