Broth­ers bring in­ter­na­tional fes­tive cheer

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - RICHARD MAYS

Broth­ers Tam­mam and Bara Tamin have only been in Palmer­ston North for eight weeks, and in New Zealand for just three months, but al­ready they have pitched in to brighten up the city’s Christ­mas.

The pair and their ex­tended family have been re­set­tled in Palmer­ston North hav­ing es­caped the civil war in Syria. They had vol­un­teered to dec­o­rate Christ­mas win­dows at Youth Space in Cole­man Pl, and at the Hal­cyon Cafe in Cuba St.

Tam­mam has Syr­ian de­grees in law, and in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion, sales and mar­ket­ing; and Bara is a qual­i­fied me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer.

But the pair pride them­selves on be­ing adapt­able and hav­ing a wide range of abil­i­ties.

‘‘We have ex­pe­ri­ence in plas­ter­ing, in build­ing, in de­sign. We have many skills ac­tu­ally. Our fa­ther en­cour­aged us to have prac­ti­cal skills to sup­port our ed­u­ca­tion,’’ Tam­mam said.

They de­cided on the Christ­mas project ‘‘to let peo­ple know we are here’’ and to thank a help­ful and sup­port­ive com­mu­nity.

Orig­i­nally refugees from north­ern Pales­tine, the Tamin family had set­tled in Homs, Syria’s third largest city.

It was a place the broth­ers de­scribed as home to peo­ple from many dif­fer­ent re­li­gious and cul­tural back­grounds, and where ev­ery­one pretty much got on.

‘‘Mus­lim, Sunni and Shia - Alaw­ite; Chris­tian and Jewish all used to live to­gether.’’

Christ­mas in Homs was a big cel­e­bra­tion, Tamin said. ‘‘It was big­ger than New Year.’’ That was be­fore ev­ery­thing ‘‘went crazy’’.

‘‘It was not a safe place - bomb­ings, shoot­ings, nowhere was safe. When they bombed my com­pany, I lose the com­pany; there was no in­come, so we de­cided to run away.’’

As Pales­tini­ans, the family al­ready had refugee sta­tus, and spent three-and-a-half years in Bangkok be­fore com­ing to New Zealand. After six weeks in Man­gere, its 17 mem­bers were now liv­ing in four sep­a­rate house­holds across two city sub­urbs.

The Youth Space Christ­mas cave the broth­ers have cre­ated would be a col­lec­tion point for do­nated gifts to chil­dren of refugee fam­i­lies who have ar­rived in the city in the last 12 months, for dis­tri­bu­tion by Red Cross at a Refugee Family Day on Jan­uary 11.

WAR­WICK SMITH

Bara Tamim in­stalls lights and dec­o­ra­tions in­side the Youth Space Christ­mas cave.

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