Refugee Sponsorship Initiative – Conversation with Nesreen


The Sponsorship committee wanted to provide the congregations with one final update on the well being and progress of the sponsorship family.  We also wanted the congregations to hear from the family more directly, and as such asked them to answer some questions about their experiences and hopes for the future.  The following is a summary of my conversation with Nesreen (the mother) from back in October and an update on their living situation.

The family have moved into a comfortable duplex in the Northeast and tell me that they have many friends in the neighbourhood, many of them also newcomers to Canada.  The children are doing very well and seem to be quite excited about school and what they are learning.  Ahmad, the oldest boy is in grade 5 and is looking forward to playing with his friends. He likes basketball and soccer and his favourite class is music. Kholoud, the only girl, is in grade 2, and her favourite subject is math. She was very much looking forward to Halloween and planned to dress up. Abdullah is in grade 1, and he also likes math (or perhaps, as his sister claims, he is simply copying her). He is very excited for snow. Nesreen is especially happy with how well the youngest boy Amer is doing. He is 3 years old and his mother notes the connection he made with all of the volunteers who helped the family over the past year. They were very loving and attentive towards him, and he has bonded them.

The children were of course overwhelmed when they first came to Canada, not least of all by the long travel and first-time experience of being on an airplane, but nearly 2 years in, they are doing very well.  I asked Nesreen what her hopes for the children are, and she responded that what she wants for them is a good education and the chance for them to be whatever they want.

All things considered, the family is also adjusting well to Calgary being their new home. It’s busier than where they were from in Syria, but for them that is okay. They don’t see the busyness as something that is good or bad, it just is. The same stoicism applies to more of the changes in their lives. The family admits that life is different in Calgary, but they consider themselves settled here.  When asked what her hopes for the future are, Nesreen responded by saying that she doesn’t think too much about the future. Her concerns are more day-to-day, and right now the main priority is to learn English. For Nesreen this is coming along, and she finds that the home tutoring she had from volunteers for the first year is really helping her in her English classes.  While Ayoub wasn’t available for the interview, Nesreen expressed that Ayoub’s hope and goals are very similar; to learn English, to do good, and to provide for his family.

I also asked Nesreen about what her impressions of Canada were when she first arrived. Probably somewhat predictably, she mentioned the cold and what a surprise it was for them. She is not particularly looking forward to experiencing it again this year, but hopefully it will be somewhat less surprising.

She also spoke about the first three days of their arrival being particularly difficult because they didn’t know anyone or anything. However, she also noted that the volunteers had provided everything they could possibly need for the first few days. Nothing was missing – it was “perfect.” The family’s morale also improved when a volunteer came to show them how to use the transit system.  As the sponsorship committee members who have worked with Ayoub can attest, he is a very social person. Nesreen also mentioned that he likes to be out and about and to connect with people, so the freedom of movement that came with learning the transit system was a real positive for the family.

Although the family is doing well, the loss of direct support from the churches does mean some changes – particularly for the children. Their participation in extracurricular activities (such as karate, dance and organized soccer) required a fair amount of logistical support, from transportation to research on how to apply for subsidies. The family is unsure of how to do all these things, but are hopeful that as their English improves, it will be easier to navigate these kinds of logistical considerations.

As a final note, much gratitude has already been expressed – by the family to all the congregations and the sponsorship committee members, and by the sponsorship committee members to the congregations for their faithful support. Nonetheless, the refugee sponsorship committee would like to take one last opportunity to thank the congregations for their prayers, financial assistance, time, handy work, and much more.

Prepared by Ashley, Communications Team – November 2017

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