The date was set, the plane tickets purchased and a Syrian family of eight made their way to Haida Gwaii. The family was expected to arrive in Sandspit on Aug. 23 after travelling for two full days across the world to their new home.
Although the family had not arrived as of press time, the sponsorship group, Operation Refugees Haida Gwaii, said they are thrilled to finally meet the sponsored families after months of fundraising and planning.
Plans called for Sandspit’s sponsored couple to be met by a small welcoming party at the airport, including an interpreter who will help them speak with the sponsorship group.
The family, they expected, will be tired and overwhelmed from their long journey, so when they arrive, the sponsors had asked for a quiet welcome at the Sandspit airport, and to give the family time to settle in the community before they get overwhelmed by the community love that comes with living on Haida Gwaii.
Knowing that Haida Gwaiians are excited for the families’ arrival, organiser Beng Favreau said in an email that a large welcoming party will not happen until later.
“Now that both families are here, we will organize a community welcome,” said Favreau.
The hard work of the sponsorship group and the generosity of the community has made sure the family will move into a fully-furnished home and have plenty of donated clothes available.
The family includes five daughters and one son. Hassan and Lama are the proud parents of: Aya, 9; Shahid, 8; Alaa, 6; Douaa, 4; Hussain, 3; and Rawan, who recently turned one year old.
Aya, Shahid and Alaa, who have never had a chance to go to school, will now be entering school in September.
“We knew when we first applied to sponsor the family that the fourth daughter was injured by shrapnel,” said Favreau.
Injured during the Syrian civil war, Douaa now uses prosthetic legs, which was a concern for the sponsors because they originally found a two-storey home for the family.
‘We have now learned from the Matching Centre of Canadian Immigration Centre that the second daughter was also injured by shrapnel,” said Favreau, adding that the young girl had multiple surgeries on her knee and needs orthopedic follow-up.
“We still need to help the family fundraise, especially for the medical needs,” she said.
The sponsorship group is organizing a raffle to assist the family with the medical costs.
Raffle tickets are $5 for three changes to win, and are available at AMS, June Bug, or by asking The Friends of Operation Refugees Haida Gwaii.