It was their chance for a Syrian refugee family to say a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to an entire community for accepting them into their homes and into their hearts.
Mohammed Albrzawi and his wife Maldaa Al Nahas Alhomsi flashed beaming smiles as they greeted dozens of people at the Kensington United Church Saturday, May 12. The couple special guests at a potluck meal sponsored by KARSI – The Kensington and Area Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (KARSI). They were joined by their two children, Hala and Kenan, nine and six years respectively.
The family had arrived on April 19, just in time to experience their first snow.
More than $38,000 was raised by KARSI to sponsor the family in Kensington, $8,000 more than the recommended amount, said Patricia Bennett, co-chair of KARSI with Carolyn Francis.
“They have a place to live and Mohammed has a part-time job in Summerside, working in a florist shop,” said Patricia.
“They are very anxious to thank the community. Because they realize it wasn’t just the community of Kensington, but the whole area who bought raffle tickets, who donated furniture and (prepared the) house.”
Mohammed owned a flower shop in Syria before the horror and devastation of war turned them into refugees. His wife was an accountant. They had lived in Damascus before the war and then found themselves in Istanbul Turkey with other refugees.
The transition to life in Kensington has been seamless.
“It was more than we expected,” said Mohammed, who had begun his second day of work at the flower shop.
“Everyone is so kind to us,” said Maldaa.
“The children are in school. They love the school and they love their teachers. The principal, the staff and the school are all very helpful. Everyone has been working hard to make the kids love the school. They’ve done a great job. They made it seem as if they are in that school for a long time,” said Mohammed.
The couple said they were amazed at how easily they able to find a rented house and move in, thanks to the community and KARSI.
“When we arrived on our first week it snowed, and it was our kids wish. The kids were playing in the snow,” said Mohammed.
“Our sponsors arranged this dinner to help us say thank you to the residents of Kensington and the surrounding area,” said Mohammed.
“We told our sponsors if we don’t meet everyone and say thank you we’re going to knock on every house door just to say thank you,” he said.
“Everybody here is so friendly and so helpful, they make us feel like we are home,” said Maldaa.
“We were worried once we arrived in Kensington we would have to worry about the house and the furniture, but when we arrived everything was set up for us. That was one of the main reasons that I was able to find a job that quick,” said her husband.
“When we moved from Syria to Istanbul it took us about four to five months to find the right house and furniture. All of this time was saved by our sponsors. We are so grateful to our sponsors, they did a great job.”