Rasheed & Aisha's Family Story
Rasheed and Aisha lived in the city of Homs, Syria when war broke out. When Homs was bombed, they fled for their lives to the nearest refugee camp, Zatari. Located in the desert, constant windstorms were the norm, with the red dust causing difficulty breathing. Many babies died at birth because of the dust, and with Aisha being pregnant, they knew they had to go somewhere else. However, no one was allowed to freely leave the camp and more refugees flooded in daily. The washrooms were about a mile away – difficult for small children and pregnant women.
With monetary persuasion, some guards allowed a few people to sneak out. A doctor gave them the $100 needed, and the family of 6 fled to Jordan at midnight. Relatives took the family in for a few days, then they moved to another relative’s apartment, where the landlord allowed them to stay. He also helped Rasheed to find a job painting houses, a big change from the glass factory where he had worked for many years.
Two and a half years later, Dec. 2014, the family arrived in Regina, knowing no English. Through the assistance of Regina Open Door Society Settlement workers, and the Life Skills worker, they have settled into an apartment. They are so thankful for the welcoming community and the assistance of a host family who have become friends.
Having a job to provide for the family is very important to Rasheed. He is not comfortable without a job and said, “My spirit and mind will be stronger, and a job will give me value.” Believing the key to success is knowing English, both spouses are in part-time classes, but have been challenged with coordinating their class schedules with those of the school-aged children. RODS English classes have been essential. For Rasheed, the additional weekly assistance of an individual tutor from the library has been extremely helpful in accelerating his language learning, toward his goal of finding a job. Employment will not only provide for the family here, but will also help those left behind. The family expressed great concern for siblings and parents, some they haven’t seen for years, and their desire to bring them “to Regina, a place of peace.”
They stressed that “for the Syrian refugees, getting a driver’s license is important, but the $500 cost (each) is prohibitive.” They also said “dental work is needed by many of the refugees, but very expensive.”
The family also wants to give back – to work as volunteers, to share their skills and talents and to help other newcomers. With the ultimate dream of opening a Syrian restaurant, they believe the key to success is mastery of the language. They really appreciate everyone “being so friendly, helpful and patient” as they try to communicate while settling into their new home.