Take a look at what the family that Syria 2 Scarborough sponsored has been doing lately.
Update on Our Syrian Newcomer Family
It’s been eight months since the Ebrahim family arrived in Canada as Syrian refugees. Thanks to the efforts of the seven SATEC teachers and one retired Valley Park Middle School teacher who sponsored Mohammad Salim, Zakia and their two boys, Mohammad and Ahmed, they are safe and moving forward in establishing their lives as Canadians. None of this would have been possible without the financial support from the SATEC community – teachers, support staff, students and student clubs, as well as friends of the SATEC community and a generous donation from the employees of Givex™.
The Ebrahim family arrived in Toronto last February – right in the middle of winter. We found them a little basement apartment and furnished it with a combination of new and donated furniture and kitchen items. We acquainted them with Middle Eastern specialty markets as well as the local grocery stores. We oriented them to their first Canadian neighbourhood and to the local mosque. We took advantage of a snowstorm that hit the city in March to introduce the boys to tobogganing. They enjoyed this winter experience tremendously while their dad looked on in delight and their mom watched nervously. By then Mohammad and Ahmed were already attending school and Mohammad Salim and Zakia were registered in ESL classes. Groups of SATEC students stepped up to visit the Ebrahim family from time to time and some offered tutoring services to Mohammad and Ahmed.
Those early days were filled with many appointments – with settlement organizations, with doctors, dentists, and government officials. Over March Break 2016, we enjoyed excursions to the Ontario Science Centre, Ripley’s Aquarium, and Fantasy Fair Indoor Amusement Park. We also visited Danforth Bowlerama where the boys enjoyed their first experience bowling.
By April we were preparing our newcomer family for their move to a 2-bedroom apartment in the Thorncliffe community, which meant a new school for the boys and a location change for mom and dad’s ESL classes. In preparation for Mohammad’s upcoming transition to high school, we formalized regular math tutoring sessions. Indoor soccer, which we had arranged for Mohammad and Ahmed in the spring, shifted to outdoor soccer in the summer. Our friends and colleagues donated new and gently used bicycles, which became a source of transportation for Mohammad Salim and great fun for his sons who ride throughout the neighbourhood with their new pals.
In July, Mohammad and Ahmed continued in a summer school program to increase their English language skills, and Ahmed had the opportunity to participate in a weeklong summer camp experience for Syrian refugee children. The camp experience prompted us to investigate swimming lessons for the boys and by August we had arranged for both of them to begin their very first swimming lessons ever. We were surprised by how much they enjoyed being in the water after their initial reluctance, and their enthusiasm prompted us to continue their swimming lessons for the Fall session.
Thankfully, our newcomer family has met and befriended other Kurdish and Syrian families who, like them, arrived in Canada as refugees. The Ebrahim family is establishing roots in Canada and picking up on the diversity and richness of Canadian culture. We know that they, and we, have many challenges ahead as we all approach the first anniversary of their arrival and as they navigate more of their daily activities independently. Our next focus is to find sustainable employment for Mohammad Salim and perhaps a tutor to accelerate his English language acquisition.