Small town hospitality goes above and beyond
In the village of Winchester is a might sense of generosity.
A team of 20 volunteers had been working since 2015 to privately sponsor a family of Syrian refugees. Their dream was realized in February 2018 when Adel Al Ghorani, his wife Dania Al Muazzen, and their children Hamza and twin daughters Masa and Liain arrived at the Ottawa International Airport.
“Any time we have needed anything from donations for clothing for games for whatever for the kids, people donated furniture and everything,” said North Dundas Mayor Eric Duncan. “It’s just been really, really heartwarming.”
Looking to make that transition easier for the family, Mayor Duncan moved out of his home in February so the family could move in.
“Myself being single and having a mother nearby I could live with, I said I would give up my house and let the family move here, get settled and then decide where in Winchester or North Dundas they should live,” he said.
Six months later, the family is now out on their own in a rental unit just a few blocks away. The home exchange wasn't made public until just recently.
“The kids are really enjoying it here,” said Dania Al Muazzen. “They are really enjoying Winchester, school and everything. It is good.”
Al Muazzen and her husband are taking English classes and have formed friendships with the volunteers who brought them to town. They say the cold is hard to get used to, but the kindness they've experienced has been overwhelming.
“When I come to Canada, everything is good,” said Adel Al Ghorani. “People very nice. When I walk, everyone here says hello.”
The Mayor says he’s happy to be back home now that the family has settled in and started making roots.
“People always joked that it must be hard, a struggle,” the mayor said. “I got three meals a day, I got laundry and it was amazing. It was really a rewarding experience and I played just a small part to make that transition to Canada easier.”