Brothers bring international festive cheer
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.
Bara Tamim installs lights and decorations inside the Youth Space Christmas cave.