Fam­ily host­ing meet and greet on Nov. 17

The Victoria Standard - - Front Page - CAROLYN BAR­BER

The Es­maeel fam­ily in­vites you to a meet & greet on Nov. 17

Madyan Es­maeel thought daily about flee­ing Syria with wife Rasha and their three young chil­dren.

He loved be­ing a phar­ma­cist at the gov­ern­ment clinic where he worked in the morn­ings, fol­lowed by his af­ter­noon shift at the pri­vate phar­macy. He loved Syria, the coun­try he moved to from Kuwait at the age of five. And, he loved his newly built house.

The fam­ily held on un­til late March 2013 when bat­tle sounds of civil war crept closer.

On April 3, 2013, the Es­maeels gath­ered some cloth­ing and a few per­sonal items and made the dan­ger­ous two-hour jour­ney from their home in Daraa in south­west Syria to neigh­bour­ing Jor­dan.

Madyan re­mem­bers a warm wel­come from the Jor­da­nian sol­diers as they crossed the bor­der.

“We moved to a refugee camp where we lived for a short time,” he said on Oct. 14, sur­rounded by his fam­ily at their home in Baddeck. “Then we moved to Ir­bid [in north­ern Jor­dan] where we lived for 5 years. We lived in safety in Jor­dan but ev­ery day we hoped the war would end in my coun­try so we can go back, but un­for­tu­nately things were get­ting worse ev­ery day.”

Daugh­ter Marah (now 14 years old), and son Mo­ham­mad, 13, re­mem­ber Syria. Daugh­ter Mais, 9, was un­aware of the war. Youngest son, Taim, 4, was born in Jor­dan.

The next leg of their jour­ney be­gan two and one-half years ago when the op­por­tu­nity to move to Canada pre­sented it­self.

“I did not dream of trav­el­ing to Canada all my life. I read about it only on the In­ter­net. When I was of­fered travel to Canada, I was hes­i­tant at first be­cause I [knew] that em­i­grat­ing to Canada mean[t] mov­ing far­ther and far­ther from home.”

The more Madyan learned about Canada, its gov­ern­ment, its peo­ple, the bet­ter he felt. Rasha’s brother and sis­ter-in-law, al­ready liv­ing in Hal­i­fax, of­fered re­as­sur­ances. Not long af­ter, a match was struck be­tween the Es­maeels and the Syria-to-baddeck spon­sor­ship group and thus a lengthy process be­gan. The wait was long on both sides. The Es­maeels com­pleted forms, in­ter­views and bio­met­ric test­ing while the Syria-to-baddeck Com­mit­tee built a wel­com­ing nest for the fam­ily to land in.

On April 26, 2018, the Es­maeels flew from Am­man, Jor­dan to Frank­furt, Ger­many. Then, on to Toronto, and fi­nally Syd­ney, Nova Sco­tia.

“I could not be­lieve we were cross­ing the At­lantic Ocean, which sep­a­rates East from West. When we got to Baddeck, we were very sur­prised when we found words wel­com­ing us in Ara­bic on many houses and gov­ern­ment cen­tres. So we felt that we had come to the right place and we did not make the wrong de­ci­sion to im­mi­grate to Canada.”

Madyan now works at Stone’s Phar­masave, Rasha works in the home. The chil­dren are busy with school and sports, and just re­cently, trick-or-treat­ing.

“I would like to thank the Com­mit­tee and the spon­sors re­spon­si­ble for us who gave us ma­te­rial and moral sup­port. I would also like to thank our neigh­bours, who were very kind to us and all the staff at the Nova Sco­tia of­fice, the bank, the li­brary, the hos­pi­tal, the post of­fice, the lan­guage teach­ers and the nurses re­spon­si­ble for my fam­ily, and all the staff of drug store.”

While they pon­der next steps, the Es­maeels wish to in­vite their new com­mu­nity for a meet-and­greet on Nov. 17, 2-4pm, at the Baddeck Com­mu­nity Hall.

The Es­maeel fam­ily poses in their home in Baddeck. Pic­tured on couch (L-R): Mo­ham­mad, Madyan, Rasha and Marah. In front (L-R) are Taim and Mais.

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