Preparing for refugees
Syrian immigrant helping bring several family members to P.E.I.
Hussam Alkhouri could feel the tension rising in his home country of Syria more than five years ago.
Seeing no end to the violent political conflict, the electrician left the country with his family in 2011 to enter Canada as an immigrant.
Alkhouri, his wife and three young sons who now call P.E.I. home, are in the process of helping others leave the war-torn area.
“I want to thank Canada, P.E.I. and all the people who helped us because there are a lot of refugees coming and everyone needs help,” Alkhouri said during an interview Saturday. “Lots of people are coming from Syria and they don’t have any money or food. They don’t have anything,”
Alkhouri is preparing for several of his family members who will be arriving in P.E.I. as refugees during the next week — his father and brother, brotherin-law, a single cousin and another cousin who has a wife and three children.
The family members have been living in Lebanon for the past two years. The thought of seeing them again is almost too much for Alkhouri.
“I might cry,” he said. “My country is very dangerous, we’ve lost a lot.”
Alkhouri, who is privately sponsoring his family members as refugees, was getting some much-needed items from the donation centre in Charlottetown aimed at helping those arriving in Canada.
The centre, which is part of the Welcome Project of the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers, offers a number of household goods for refugees looking to start a new life in Canada.
Co-ordinator Hannah Jones said the centre has seen many donations and was previously filled before Christmas.
However, much of that stock has been depleted, especially furniture.
“We’ve moved a fair number of families into their permanent housing,” she said. “That’s why we’re re-opening now because there’s additional need for more furniture to help people get settled into their new homes.”
Before the weekend, 89 Syrian refugees have arrived on P.E.I.
“And there’s still more coming,” said Jones. “We only get notice a few days before they arrive.”
Jones said the centre, located at 1 Queen Street across from the Delta Prince Edward in the former Canadian Coast Guard building, will continue to open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. until further notice.
Jones said those looking for a list of needed items or anyone who wants to make a monetary donation, can visit www.peianc.com.
Hussam Alkhouri and his two oldest sons, Suhil, centre, and Raja, load furniture and other household goods from a welcome centre for Syrian refugees into an SUV on Saturday. While Alkhouri and his family came to P.E.I. as immigrants, he’s now furnishing an apartment that will be used by family members arriving as refugees later this week.