Syrian families brought to Pictou County by Safe Harbour mark first year

Published on February 15, 2017

Basem Almethyb, his wife Rania and daughter Raneem are thankful for the opportunity to live in Pictou County and have been working hard to learn English.

©Adam MacInnis

It’s been a year since Basem Almethyb, his wife Rania and their four children arrived in Pictou County.

They were sponsored to come here by Pictou County Safe Harbour and arrived by plane on Feb. 6, 2016.

Ilhem Dede (left) has been helping teach Ghade Almetheb English.

©Adam MacInnis

They were later joined by relatives, Abdulkarim and Ghade Almetheb and their children who had come as refugees to Hamilton, Ont., before they were brought to Pictou County.

“The biggest experience and challenge has been learning the language,” Basem said through interpreter Ilhem Dede, who was teaching them Wednesday morning.

They’ve been taking classes every day and are learning to communicate, but it’s taking time.

Despite the language barrier, they’ve made many new friends. Their children have taken part in soccer as well as karate classes and are going to school. The families also enjoyed gardening last summer.

Both Basem and Abdulkarim have obtained their driver’s licences. Abdulkarim is now working for Crombie Reit. The women have also started a small business called the Syrian Kitchen and are hoping to expand it in the new year.

Basem, a blacksmith by trade, is hoping to find some kind of work soon, either as a blacksmith or using his other skills.

This week’s snow is more than they would have ever experienced in Syria, but they say they are getting used to that as well.

“We were just talking about how the kids love to play in the snow,” Dede says.

She said it’s worked out well that the families live next door to each other because their children can play together.

The families say they wish they could improve their English more so they can express themselves better to their friends but they are thankful for the people around them who have showed kindness and support.

“I know for a fact that they don’t feel lonely because of the amount of friends and effort people have made,” Dede said.

Wednesday evening a potluck was held at Trinity United Church to celebrate the Syrian families’ anniversary of arrival in Pictou County.

“They would like to express their thanks to whoever contributed to Safe Harbour, to the members of the group themselves who have been very supportive and to everybody in Pictou County for welcoming them and making them feel home. And offering them a safe corner to live in because they truly feel safe,” Dede said.