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Syrian family settling into Grand Falls-Windsor

Hala Shareef, left, Rana Alkadrie, Mohammad Shareef, Aya Shareef and Saad Shareef were officially welcomed to the community prior to a town council meeting in Grand Falls-Windsor March 6.
Hala Shareef, left, Rana Alkadrie, Mohammad Shareef, Aya Shareef and Saad Shareef were officially welcomed to the community prior to a town council meeting in Grand Falls-Windsor March 6. - Sarah Ladik

Shareef family welcomed to community at town council

GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – If there is one thing Saad Shareef wants you to know, it’s that he and his family are doing well.

“We’re happy to be in Canada,” he told the Advertiser Tuesday evening after being welcomed to the community before a town council meeting. “We waited a lot of time before we could come here.”

Saad, his wife Rana Alkadrie, their daughters Aya and Hala Shareef, and son Mohammad Shareef arrived in Grand Falls-Windsor from Syria about two months ago, with the help of the town’s refugee committee. They said they are settling in well, though the change in cultures – not to mention weather – has been trying.

“At school, we understand everything, but it’s hard to communicate with the teachers,” Aya said through her father, who acted as the interpreter for the family.

For Mohammad, the biggest change has been getting used to another culture, though Saad said the children are adapting quickly and doing well in all their school work.

After the trials of getting to Canada in the first place, one of the biggest challenges facing the Shareefs now is finding familiar and appropriate food. It will come as no surprise to Newfoundlanders that there is hardly a plethora of Halal shops, especially in central, which makes it difficult for practising Muslims to source meat, in particular.

“It’s been hard to find a good variety of food,” Alkadrie said.

Similar groups to Grand Falls-Windsor’s refugee committee have been working for some time to help bring refugee families from war-torn Syria to central Newfoundland communities. So far the results have been positive, with one family settling in Lewisporte and a handful now calling Gander home.

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