The Al Rifai family landed in Halifax after a year-long challenge with an infant and toddler in tow, fleeing their native Syria on foot to find refuge in Jordan. They were welcomed to Canada in November 2016 with the help of a group of Nova Scotians working hard to get them here safely.
Their arrival marked a new beginning and meant safety and opportunity for the Al Rifai’s, but with that also came much loss – a story heartbreakingly common among this new sect of Nova Scotians.
Imagine your family and friends left behind and still in danger in Syria, your entire home city abandoned, and your professional credentials no longer qualifying you or your wife to practice medicine in Canada. You are suddenly on a fixed income, living below the poverty line, and your native language is no longer the official language for employment.
Despite all this, the Al Rifai’s joined together with other Syrian families in their community and created the Nova Scotia Syrian Society (NSSS).
The group is already having a tremendous impact, ranging from covering a grieving family’s funeral costs for an unexpected death, to starting a volunteer-run weekend school that has grown to two days a week for over one hundred and twenty students. The society has grown to over 300 Syrian-Canadian men and women who make a small monthly contribution but funds are very difficult to grow as most new families have absolutely no disposable income. Funds are lent out as interest-free loans, providing a launch platform for families to create business opportunities for themselves and help out in unforeseen emergency circumstances. Members of the NSSS want to pay it forward in their new home.
Our member families had to flee their country, leave family members behind, and endure war and danger; and yet, their top priority is to help other families in need. The needs are many and funds are unfortunately very limited – for now.