December 22, 2017 5:42 pm

Syrian newcomer fixes bikes for those in need in Saint John, N.B. area

WATCH: It may not be his chosen profession, but Mohammed Khawan finds value in his work. As Andrew Cromwell reports, the licensed barber now works as a bike technician for a Saint John neighbourhood resource centre. Andrew Cromwell brings us his story.

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A newcomer from Syria is making an impact in Saint John in what seems to be an ever-growing business.

Mohammed Khawan, 29, is a bike technician with the Bike Share Program at the Crescent Valley Resource Centre.

Khawan is a licensed barber with 17 years experience, but finding work has been difficult because of the language barrier.

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He arrived in Saint John from Syria via Egypt and Toronto in February of 2016.

Speaking through interpreter Nadhim Mansoor, Khawan hopped on the bike when the opportunity arose.

“He says I’m going to work,” said Mansoor.

“Anything available I will work”

Mohammed succeeded another Syrian newcomer in the position when he found new employment.

He hit the ground running, or perhaps pedaling, in just his second day on the job.

“He noticed there is a bike giveaway and we need like thirteen to fourteen bikes so he fixed them all,” Mansoor explained.

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More than four hundred bikes have been given away to people throughout the region since the Bike Share program began a couple of years ago. The demand increased considerably after the arrival of Syrian immigrants to the city.

“We started off, I think, the other year with maybe twenty-some people on our list that wanted bikes,” said program co-chair Craig Campbell.

“Pretty soon it was over two hundred.”

The repair work being done is invaluable.

“It makes all the difference in the world because you can produce a hundred bikes in some reasonable amount of time,” Campbell explained

And while Khawan wants to someday return to barbering, he finds great value in what he’s doing now.

“He enjoys helping young kids,” Monsoor said.

“He has a child and what makes children happy that makes him happy”.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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