WARM HEARTS AND WEL­COM­ING COM­MU­NI­TIES

The Central Voice - - Front Page -

When they ar­rived on Cana­dian soil here in New­found­land, the two refugee fam­i­lies that we wel­comed in Lewis­porte had been through more ter­ror, loss, ha­tred and fear than we could ever imag­ine.

Step­ping off the plane in St. John’s or Gan­der, they were en­veloped in more hos­pi­tal­ity and safety and love than they could ever imag­ine.

That love, peace, se­cu­rity and hope sur­rounded them each and ev­ery day that they spent wrapped in this com­mu­nity’s car­ing em­brace. From the very be­gin­ning, the Lewis­porte Refugee Out­reach Com­mit­tee dreamed and planned for the de­tails of invit­ing a Syr­ian fam­ily to our town and I am so grate­ful to have worked with such a com­pas­sion­ate and ca­pa­ble team.

A home was do­nated and you, in the town and in the sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties, went to work fill­ing it with fur­ni­ture, hand­made quilts, dishes, pots and pans and ev­ery pos­si­ble thing a fam­ily would need. Peo­ple were so gen­er­ous that there was plenty more than ne­ces­sity re­quired and the fam­ily was over­whelmed with the abun­dance of love poured out in the pro­vi­sion of phys­i­cal needs, emo­tional sup­port and trans­la­tion ser­vices.

Dur­ing the very early stages of plan­ning for the first fam­ily, the Pen­te­costal Church came on board to sup­port a se­cond fam­ily to ease the tran­si­tion of both. Two fam­i­lies would be able to sup­port each other in cul­ture and lan­guage.

And so, you, the gen­er­ous and car­ing peo­ple of Lewis­porte went to work and set up a se­cond apart­ment. It was also in­cred­i­ble to see the out­pour­ing of gen­eros­ity from smaller com­mu­ni­ties that couldn’t sup­port a fam­ily on their own, but wanted to be part of the dream with us.

To­gether, we wel­comed a se­cond fam­ily and got eight new Cana­dian res­i­dents a fresh start in a new land full of hope and prom­ise.

The Lewis­porte Academy Staff worked hard to teach the chil­dren the ba­sics of the English lan­guage and the love of school where they learned many sub­jects sur­rounded by new friends. Nei­ther of our chil­dren had been to school be­fore and were placed with their peers in Grade 2 and Grade 4. The staff and the tu­tors who worked with the chil­dren at home helped them be­come ba­si­cally bilin­gual in a short pe­riod of time.

Adult tu­tors spent hours at home and in the com­mu­nity teach­ing English read­ing, writ­ing and con­ver­sa­tion to the adults.

To all who helped, sup­ported and en­cour­aged the Mou­fleh and the al-Amed fam­i­lies, thank you. Your warm wel­come and gen­eros­ity gave them the foun­da­tion, sta­bil­ity and con­fi­dence to move into a big­ger cen­tre in Wind­sor, On­tario.

Like many New­found­lan­ders, our fam­i­lies needed to move to the main­land in hopes of find­ing work and op­por­tu­nity. They keep in touch, miss us all ter­ri­bly, but are set­tling into their new neigh­bour­hood, at­tend­ing the mosque, and con­tin­u­ing to study the lan­guage and cul­ture of be­ing Cana­dian.

Thank you from Ta­lika, Mo­hamad, Fa­tima, Rayane and Moussa and Alaa, Ra­neen and Lara for your ex­tra­or­di­nary gifts of love!

Rev. Steph McClel­lan

Chair, Lewis­porte Out­reach Com­mit­tee

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