From war zone to peace: The story of a Syrian refugee family in Calgary
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 2012, 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.
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) has worked with the community and many volunteers to support the family.
- Tutoring Program. 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 them to other supports and resources.
- Community Support. With the generosity of kind community members, we provided the family with grocery gift cards and a hamper over the holiday season.
A Calgary non-profit since 2003, the SouthWest Communities Resource Centre serves local residents in 28 communities south of Glenmore Trail. They build on the families foundations, create networks of support, and give concrete assistance when necessary. For more information on SWCRC’s free programs and services, visit www.swcrc.ca.