Members of the Ottawa South Committee for Refugee Sponsorship (OSCRS) hosted a welcome party for brothers: Ali, Emad, and Ghassan on Saturday, September 9, 2017.
Joining them was their mother, Sawsan, and sister Sara. Sawsan beams, recollecting how much it means to have her three sons by her side. Based on her looks of pure joy, it’s easy to see how delighted she is to be with her sons again.
Guests at the party included the family that OSCRS sponsored last year: the Alsebaee family. Having “been there, done that,” the family greeted and encouraged Sawsan and her sons.
A few weeks after the welcome party, Nirmeen Alsebaee gave birth to a healthy baby boy, named Azad, on September 25th. They celebrated the birth with their own welcome party at their home in early October and welcomed many of the volunteer Committee members who assisted them last year.
Since Ali and his brothers arrived in Canada in July, learning English has been a top priority. To facilitate their learning, a team of English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers are working with them to supplement their ESL classes.
Rachel Hancock, key committee organizer, reports that the brothers are now enrolled in two separate schools, and they’re all enjoying very much being back in the classroom. She reports:
The two younger brothers, Emad and Ghassan, are enrolled in the same English Literacy Development (ELD) class at high school. The class is composed of a dozen or so other high school students who come from similar circumstances and have been out of school for a few years. This program gives Emad and Ghassan an excellent opportunity to learn English and work towards completing high school. It will take them a number of years, but they are motivated to catch up on the time they have lost in their education.
Ali is enrolled in an adult ESL program at the board, and he attends the same school as his mother, so they’re able to support each other as they learn English, as well as job skills, and Ali may also continue onto post-secondary education once he meets the English requirements.
Technology is required to support their learning. That’s why two donated laptops have been provided to these young men. Since the family goes in different directions to get to school, it’s essential to be able to keep in touch with each other. So, the committee arranged to provide them with cell phones. The phones will also help with their social integration: When the brothers start to make friends, they will be able to make plans via text – the primary means of communication for people their age.
This month, Ali, Emad, and Ghassan will witness the breathtaking turning of green tree leaves into the splendid hues of orange, yellow and red. With temperatures dipping, committee members took the brothers shopping for warmer clothes to prepare them for fall. Another shopping trip will be necessary when the snow and even colder weather is here.
Sponsorship comes with a large financial cost and the committee is reaching out to the Old Ottawa South community for financial aid.
Please consider making a financial donation to support the committee’s efforts. Tax receipts will be provided. Cheques are payable to Trinity Anglican Church. Be sure to write on the memo line: Refugee Support and mail to: Trinity Anglican Church, 1230 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K1S 3Y3.
You can also drop off a monthly or one-time donation at the church on Bank Street at Cameron Avenue, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Tuesdays to Thursdays.
Georgina Hunter is a member of OSCRS and a resident of Old Ottawa South.
Originally published in the November 2017 OSCAR.