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Standing ovation for young man who saved family from fire

Council, members of the public and a proud family were on their feet with a standing ovation for a young man who saved lives and received civic recognition at Tuesday’s meeting.

While fire last May was consuming the home of the Wellington family of Adnan Mustafa and Suhaila El Husein, their 14-year-old son Ahmed showed courage and determination getting his sister and baby brother out safely.

Ahmed with Mayor Ferguson. Photo PECSyria

Presenting a civic recognition award, Mayor Steve Ferguson noted the young man had instinct and presence of mind when he first saw the fire from his upstairs window, and alerted his parents who were able to escape with his brother who uses a wheelchair.

“You serve as an inspiration to all of us. Not only because of what you did last May, but because of your character that I hope serves as an example to us all. And I speak for many when I say that I am proud that you are here. And that you have made the County your home. We are all much richer because of that. So thank you very much and congratulations.”

The parents and all five children made it out of the house – they didn’t even have time to put on their shoes.

It was the third time the family had lost everything. War in Syria destroyed their first home. They spent five years as refugees before they left everything behind again to come to Canada, sponsored and supported by PECSyria volunteers in Prince Edward County, a group formed and lead by Carlyn Moulton.

“So again, eight years after arriving in the County, Ahmad and his family faced an uncertain future,” explained Mayor Ferguson. “And again, the community rallied and they raised funds to assist the family – some who would not be here this evening were it not for his heroic efforts.”

The community helped raise funds (more than $70,000) to get another custom-build bed, chairs and van for their son with special needs and they’ve slowly rebuilt their lives – and their commercial kitchen.

Parents Adnan and Suhaila are well known for their Middle Eastern food business Papa Ghanoush and Momma Hummus, as product is found on grocery shelves across the region.

“Can you imagine being in similar circumstances,” Mayor Ferguson asked aloud. “Can you imagine being six or seven years of age as Ahmed was and being forced to leave all that was familiar to you to face an uncertain future.  A different culture, different geography, different society… different everything. Perhaps some of that experience prepared Ahmed to confront the events of May 28 last year.”

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