Sponsors ask for help after Nanaimo fire leaves family of Syrian refugees homeless

WatchA family of seven Syrian refugees has lost their home and furniture in a weekend house fire in Nanaimo and sponsors who helped set them up here are pleading for the community to help. The Al Zamal's have five children and have been dealt a hard blow to their efforts to start over.

On Monday, 16-year-old Mohammed Al Zamal and his family returned to inspect the damage to their Nanaimo home of three years.

Their belongings were damaged by smoke in a Friday night house fire that investigators say was sparked by a faulty power bar. The items are now being bagged up for disposal. Everything from this Syrian refugee family’s beds to clothing needing to be replaced

“It’s very bad you cannot live right now, here,” said Mohammed Al Zamal.

“So we have to renew everything, we have to get new things, a new house.”

The family had been celebrating two-year-old Duea Al Zamal’s birthday when the fire broke out at 9:30 p.m. Friday night.

“I feel scared,” said Mohammed’s younger sister Walaa Al Zamal.

“It was the first time I see like fire.”

Making matters worse is the family and their sponsorship group had been fundraising to help bring more of the Al Zamal family to the home from a refugee camp in Jordan.

“The initial reaction is just really heartbreaking,” said friend Caitlin Johnston.

“It feels like back to square one for the family and the people helping out.”

So they hope this won’t sideline efforts to reunite the Al Zamal’s with five more members of their family.

“It’s hard for the family to have that you have to work again to fix everything,” said Mohammed Al Zamal.

“So that’s what we’re going to be looking to cover the costs of,” said Johnston.

“Refurnishing a whole home for seven people as well as bedding, towels, linens.”

Donations are being accepted at Coastal Community Credit Union under the name “AZ Sponsorship group”. In the meantime, the family is being housed by friends as they struggle to get back on their feet once more.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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