In 2016, Basel, Sabah, Aboudy, and Amira Masri were warmly welcomed by St. Christopher’s Church, Burlington. Their multiyear odyssey started in Syria, through Turkey and eventually Canada. Today, the Syrian Family Reunification Committee (SFR) is working to bring 10 more Masri family members from Turkey to Canada.
The three brothers and their families met with Canadian embassy officials in Ankara and were told their application for permanent residency was approved. The next step is arranging travel visas.
In the two following conversations, first Basel relates his stories and hopes, and secondly SFR Coordinator Bob Loree tells us what is happening and what we can do.
Hollis: What were your thoughts when you stepped off the plane in Toronto to begin a new life in Canada?
Basel: The moment we stepped out of the plane, we did not feel that we were strangers when we saw a big sign that said “welcome to Canada,” raised by a wonderful Canadian group. I also felt that we are now in safe hands, and we are going to have our first night without any bombs or aircraft strikes.
Hollis: How do you feel now?
Basel: I feel that we are a very successful family and we have accomplished many goals. We are an active part of the community, plus we can see how our lives exist here in Canada.
Hollis: What are the biggest changes?
Basel: I can see our beautiful kids growing in a safe environment and that their future is here. I can see myself as a successful student, full-time manager, multitasker, and the most important growth is that I will be a very successful law student in the near future … all because of the support from the families that sponsored us five years ago.
Hollis: What do you do for fun and relaxation?
Basel: Go to the theatre, go out to the local parks, explore new places, and do other activities such as swimming and biking.
Hollis: What work experiences have you had?
Basel: After we arrived in Canada, within three months, I found a part-time job at a restaurant after my school hours. Then I had full-time in the same field, got different positions and then became a restaurant manager.
Hollis: What have you done to further your education?
Basel: Both our kids are currently studying, grades 2 and 3. They are doing very well and speak two languages. Sabah got a hairdresser certificate. I went to an English as a Second Language (ESL) school. Then my teacher suggested I go to college so that’s what I’m doing now at Sheridan College. I will be finishing my highest English level just before Christmas. Because I went to law school back home in Syria, I have that desire to complete my education here in the same field. I’m applying for paralegal and finally I’m definitely going to law school.
Hollis: Why do you want other family members to come to our country?
Basel: For so many reasons. First of all, I really missed them, I have not seen their kids. Secondly, their kids can go to school and the adults can start building their future. I can assure you that—with your support—they can build a bright future for themselves and for their kids. They are very hard-working, and they are well educated.
Hollis: Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
Basel: I do believe that every single penny is counted, and I am faithful that God will help your kids and your grandkids because good deeds will never be forgotten.
Hollis: You coordinated the group that brought Basel’s family to Canada; now you are doing the same for his extended family. Why?
Bob: Canada is a great place to live. The entire Masri family has experienced the horror of living in a country that has become a warzone with indiscriminate bombs ripping through neighbourhoods, killing loved ones, demolishing lives, and separating families. They have experienced terror and pray for safety, security, education, health, and life with family and friends. Sponsoring Basel’s extended family to come to Canada is about offering survival, providing opportunities, changing lives forever and reunifying a family separated by violence. God is calling us to action, to be thankful and help others. We are answering that call.
Hollis: What groups are involved with SFR?
Bob: We are a team of Anglicans, Muslims, and community members who are sharing our good fortunes with human beings who have had their lives destroyed. We have learned how innocent people with horrific experiences beg for the chance to have their family reunited in Canada. For them to have the opportunity to be healthy, educated, contributors in a safe future with loved ones, is our mission. We need your help!
Hollis: How can people help?
Bob: Our financial goal is $90,000 to be donated or pledged before December 31, 2022. Cheques can be made out to The Synod of the Diocese of Niagara, with St. Christopher’s Refugee Sponsorship in the memo line, and sent to Cathedral Place, Attn: Refugee Sponsorship, 252 James Street North, Hamilton, ON, L8R 2L3.
To learn more, donate, and contact SFR, visit syrianfamily.ca.