By Chris Marchand
“Thank you for saving my children from the war,” said Shaha Janbali to the people of Dryden through interpreter Ghada Ibrahim.
A long-awaited day unfolded in the fellowship hall of Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Saturday as some of Dryden’s newest residents greeted a multitude of locals who arrive to celebrate the end of the refugee family’s several year ordeal and a fresh start in a far-away land.
Abed and Shaha Janbali along with their children Omar (10), Osman (9), Mira (6) and Sila (4) were able to overcome the limits of language in communicating their thanks and great relief to all assembled.
Dryden Syrian Refugee Committee’s Ember McKillop says the funds raised for the effort have been sitting in reserve for 18 months while the Janbali family remained living in difficult conditions in a refugee camp in Northern Iraq. They had been there for three years prior to connecting to the Dryden group.
“We had a meeting with Bob Nault (MP) back in September and after that it really took off. It really got moving. Whether it just got lost in the shuffle, or we had heard at one point it may have been the instability around the refugee camp. We had also heard that after the 25,000 (refugees) the government had promised was met, that maybe they were dropping off on their acceptances.”
The Committee was able to lease a home for the family that has been furnished with many generous donations. Now the process of learning the language begins with plenty of help from volunteers.
Omar, Osman and Mira have each had their first day of school at Open Roads last week. Sila (who has lived in a refugee camp since she was six months old) will attend school next year.
“I would like to thank all Canadians, the government and the people for the humanitarian efforts they helped us with,” said Abed Janbali through interpreter Ghada Ibrahim. “We don’t know how to thank you enough. We hope we never disappoint you as new citizens to Canada and you will be proud of our contribution to your society. Hopefully we’ll do what’s good for this country in its trials and in its happiness and no matter what we do, we’ll do it together.”