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PEC Syria helping family settle in their County home

Most of the members of the family: Abdel Malek and his wife Sawsen, his mother Hadji, and their children Slieman, Ramez, Khatim, Ahmed, Rahef, Siham, Walaa, Alaa, Mijed, Bachar, and the baby Fadl pose for a photo. - Carlyn Moulton photo

Most of the members of the family: Abdel Malek and his wife Sawsen, his mother Hadji, and their children Slieman, Ramez, Khatim, Ahmed, Rahef, Siham, Walaa, Alaa, Mijed, Bachar, and the baby Fadl pose for a photo. – Carlyn Moulton photo

Prince Edward County’s newest residents are feeling welcome and ready to face challenges of learning about life in a new country – with a new language, new friends and faces.

Over the weekend the County’s PEC Syria sponsor group welcomed Abdel Malek Al Jassam, his wife Sauwsen Moustafa, their 11 children and a grandmother to start their new life – free of war, hopeful for safety.

“We recognize that the family has much healing to do as they have experienced devastation in their home country, and have been living in Lebanon for quite some time before arriving here. Not to mention the family has jetlag from their long journey to Canada. As you can imagine, the process has been overwhelming,” said Kathleen Powderley, co-chair of the County’s Syrian Refugee Fund.

Powderley said the family is one of strength and endurance.

“They are thankful for the support they have received, and are already talking about work opportunities, education, obtaining driver licenses, and the children have started to learn English.”

Many of the County volunteers have spent time with some of the family members, and matched the children and teens with County peers for some outings – including Halloween.

PEC Syria founder Carlyn Moulton is pleased with the progress in the family’s first week.

“This is all unfolding very quickly but we are walking in some kind of rhythm here,” she said. “You can make all the plans you want but things will happen and you have to be ready in a roll-with-it frame of mind.”

Moulton said she hopes for patience in the community and knows the family is grateful for the support they will be receiving as they figure out the customs and settle in.

She noted some success using “Google Translate” for English to Arabic, but not so much the other way around and learned quickly to be careful using metaphors.

“I was taking to Abdel about some things then said I would ‘get out of your hair’ and however that was translated seemed to be a little shocking to him,” laughed Moulton. “Then I said something to the effect that he will soon be ‘standing on your own two feet’ and he looked puzzled, and stood up.”

Abdel, who posed for a photograph with most of the family members, sent along a brief message on behalf of the family:

“We would like to thank all of the people who have helped our family. We are happy to be here and look forward to getting to know the community. The children are very excited to go to school.”

Moulton notes there are about 60 volunteers in the community who have made this sponsorship unfold since the PEC Syria group began in September.

For now, they are figuring out how to adapt the kitchen and see what needs to leave the house, before more donations are brought in.

For example, the four-slice toaster is likely not needed as the family eats a flat bread, not sliced bread. Some of the clothes that are not correct sizes will also flow back into the community.

“Thank you to all of the volunteers who have done so much from very early on in this process to help the family feel welcome. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed and have already made a tremendous difference to ease the transition. Thanks also to our donors for your contributions.”

More information on the PEC sponsor group at www.pecsyria.org

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  1. Great to see people helping the refugees. One thing I noticed is they seem to have much larger families than anywhere else I’ve seen. It’s like a single family unit has a husband, wife, 5 children and a grandparent. That’s a huge immediate family!

  2. Paul Cole says:

    Lets hope the new Liberal government steps up and helps clean up the Refugee mess Harper and the Cons helped create by bombing and displacing so many Syrian Families… Welcome to Canada Al Jassam Family…

  3. Susan says:

    County folks making us all proud! Great work!

  4. judy kennedy says:

    So glad we could do this for at least one family. A warm welcome from my house to the Malek family! If a portable sewing machine is of any use, please message me on here. I would be pleased to donate it. And, it would be nice if there was a contact number for donations by people who are not on any of the committees.

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