SouthWest Communities Resource Centre

From war zone to peace

From war zone to peace: The story of a Syrian refugee family in Calgary


Example of a refugee camp in Lebanon.

Can you imagine a life where you’re happy, your family leads a successful life as farmers and in the blink of an eye it all disappears. Your world is turned upside down as violence breaks out in your country. You find yourself living in a war zone. What would you do?

This is the story of the Dahoud family, their struggle and how they became your friendly Calgary neighbour (names have been changed to maintain the family’s privacy). The Dahoud’s are a family of nine, including seven children ages 6 – 18 years old, from northern Syria. In 2011, they fled to Lebanon where all nine family members lived in a refugee camp for the next four years. During these four years, the Dahoud children didn’t receive any formal schooling setting them back in their education.

Mother of the Dahoud family and eldest daughter.

The Dahoud family wasn’t alone in their search for peace and stability. Between November 2015 and February 2016, Canada opened its arms to welcome more than 25,000 Syrian refugees. Since their arrival to Calgary on January 1, 2016,the Dahoud family has been working hard to integrate and adapt to their new home. The Calgary community, specifically Canyon Meadows and the Calgary Catholic Immigration and Settlement Society, have been a great support during the family’s first year in Calgary. Community support has enabled the Dahoud children to resume their schooling, including the eldest son who has Down syndrome. Being in Canada means he has the resources and opportunity to attend a special education program for which the family is grateful. This is his first educational experience as no options were available to the family in Syria for their special needs son.

Now that the family has settled into their home in Canyon Meadows, the SouthWest Communities Resource Centre (SWCRC) will add to the list of community supporters for the Dahoud’s.

  • Education support. Each Wednesday evening, volunteer tutors will spend time with four of the children to assists each one with reading and math skills.
  • Some tutors have become mentors to the children and are in weekly contact with the family ensuring basic needs are met.
  • One-on-one support. SWCRC community social workers have provided information and have helped connect the family to resources.
  • Monetary assistance. With the generosity of community residents in December 2016, the SWCRC provided the Dahoud family with grocery gift cards over the holiday season.  

A Calgary non-profit since 2003, the SouthWest Communities Resource Centre serves local residents in 28 southwest communities. The SWCRC strives to support residents to create vibrant livelihoods, find affordable housing, raise healthy children and does so by providing free programs and services. For more information on SWCRC’s free programs and services, visit