One week of Canadian life!

It’s been exactly one week since we picked up our newcomers at a hotel near the airport in Toronto. What a week it’s been! We’ve registered kids for school, completed all medical appointments, filled out mountains of paperwork, shopped for groceries (including halal meat and loads of flatbreads), taken the family around town, to the lake, and skating at the arena. We’ve shared countless cups of sweet black tea and delicious meals around a very large table with many little faces.

The family is settling in, slowly but surely, and starting to understand more about how life works in Ontario. It’s a steep learning curve for all, but with each day it gets easier. I’d like to share¬†a few photos of what we’ve been up to during the past week.

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First trip down to the lake. They were very impressed by how huge it is, and said they can’t wait to see it during summer. (3 kids were sleeping in the car when this picture was taken.) Our translator Mariam Joudeh (on the far left) has been doing a stellar job.
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Visit to the elementary school, where 7 kids will start classes next week. They were excited to meet their teachers. A huge thank you to Saugeen Central for all they’ve done to prepare, including many signs written in Arabic!
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Learning all about bus safety, after a fabulous tour of Saugeen Central. They’re all ready for Monday morning!

Early morning skating

We went skating early this morning in Southampton. We rounded up several baskets full of donated ice skates and helmets, asked volunteers to come give us a hand, and hit the ice for an hour. Our newcomers did amazingly well!

Some of the kids, especially the younger ones, caught on surprisingly fast, while some of the older ones were reluctant to try. There was much laughter had by all.

We’re looking forward to having many more Canadian experiences together. The family seems to be adapting well and is very eager and willing to learn about life here in Saugeen Shores. Thanks to everyone for the help and support.

Here are some of the kids admiring the hockey players after our time was up.

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Welcome to Saugeen Shores!

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I am overjoyed to announce that our newcomers have arrived. They are now settled, safe and sound, in their new home. It’s been a whirlwind weekend for everyone, full of new words and names, struggled conversations that are a mix of English and Arabic, explanations about how things work, the triple cheek-kisses we’ve quickly learned how to do, many smiles and much laughter at our inability to communicate whenever Mariam the translator steps out of the room.

They are lovely people. The children can’t wait to start school as soon as possible, and the parents are eager to start English classes. They’ve had a long, hard journey, and several years of uncertainty since being forced to leave their home in Aleppo, Syria, so it is both exciting and exhausting to start yet again.

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Excited children exploring their new home

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We have insisted on their need for privacy, but don’t let that get in the way of welcoming them. If you see them, please say hello, tell them how happy you are to have them here, extend an offer of hospitality, a hug, handshake or kiss. They are eager to meet people, and were visibly amazed to learn that the community’s donations are the reason they’re here.

We all have a steep learning curve ahead. This is when the real work starts, and no doubt we’ll be calling on many of you who have offered assistance. Right now, the priority is to get the kids enrolled in school, catch up on doctor and dentist appointments, orient them in the town, start English classes, and start discussing employment options.

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A snuggle with the littlest family member

Thanks for all your support so far.