A family of Syrian refugees who’ve just settled in Nanaimo is sharing what they’ve lived through with local high school students, to give them a personal perspective on their experience fleeing Syria and coming to Canada.
The meeting and talk took place at Wellington Secondary Thursday and has left a lasting impression.
At 5 years old, little Hiba Ali sits patiently for hours in front of an audience at Nanaimo’s Wellington Secondary school. Barely squirming as her dad shares his family’s experience being Syrian refugees.
“It blew me out of the water what they said, like I was amazed,” says 18 year old Zoey Thompson.
Even at Hiba’s tender young age this is a snap compared to what she and her family have been through.
“I was very afraid for her because it was very dangerous there,” says Hiba’s mother Abeer Aktaba.
This family of four has only been in Nanaimo for eight weeks, and are grateful to be here. So with help from refugee of two years Feras Saedam translating their accounts they’re sharing what life in a war zone, from the hunger, to explosions and daily fear and then fleeing to Canada was like, to enrich these high school students education of global studies.
“It’s magnificent. It’s a really new experience for me. To meet the young Canadians,” says Feras Saedam.
And those feelings are mutual.
“The stories the family shared were just, it was incredible. Like I had no idea coming in what to expect,” says Thompson.
“It went better than I hoped it would,” says teacher Tony Arruda. ” When I think of students having to sit for two hours and listen to this it shows we have a common humanity.”
“And it’s real people, not just someone on TV,” says Thompson. ” I think it makes a big impression on them.”
And when the young refugee family leaves the school, they feel a little more part of the city they now call home.
After sharing their past with the community that’s helped give them a future.