Muna Ghadi and her husband Hosni remember the day well when they prepared their family to flee their home in war-torn Syria four years ago, to escape to a refugee camp in Jordan.
They had seen shootings and bombings where they lived near Damascus. They wanted to leave for the sake of their four children.
“Leaving Syria was an adventure,” said Hosni.
“So many people don’t know the truth about Syrian people,” Hosni said. “When Syrian people go into the streets, they cry by one voice.”
“We need democracy. We need freedom. We don’t need a dictatorship,” he added.
Hosni said often people don't understand that the citizens in Syria get along with each other, whatever their religion - Christian, Muslim, or otherwise.
“We have a civil culture,” he said.
But they are caught in the middle of a war zone.
Hosni said people don’t hear about all the war crimes against innocent civilians. The Ghadi family have lost loved ones to the violence, too, and experienced the atrocities of war first-hand.
"We're trying not to remember things," said Muna.
Today, they live in a house on a quiet street in North Battleford, since arriving here in July. Their children attend school. The family takes in hockey games, and in the summer visits tranquil Jack Fish Lake.
They find the community here is “very friendly.”
Muna said it’s still hard for the family as they are worried about their relatives back home, but they are relieved to be in North Battleford, and to have a new start. She and her husband are grateful for their children the most.
“The important thing is the safety,” Muna said. “No shootings. No bombings. They can go to school without hearing bombs and shootings. They are very happy. Also, we are very happy for them, because there is no future in [Syria] for the children.”
The family are still getting accustomed to their new home, improving their English, and getting ready to find employment. Muna who speaks Arabic, used to teach English in her home country, while Hosni was a trained pilot.
Muna said she is touched to see the local residents' kindness.
“I feel like I was born here,” she said. “I love them. We have good neighbours, good friends.”
Carlo Hansen, who is also the principal at John Paul II Collegiate, is on the St. Joseph Calasanctius Catholic Parish’s refugee sponsorship committee that helped bring the family here, with support from the church's parishioners.
The church committee fundraised to support the family for the first year.
“I think it was an important thing to do,” said Hansen. “We heard about what was going on around the world. We feel we are part of a local committee, but also a global community. We wanted to help a family out that was in need.”
For the Ghadi family, that help has meant a better life.
“I want to say thank you to the government, St. Joseph church and the sponsors,” Muna said. “A lot of people helped us to come here.”
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