Naramata Welcomes the Al Hariri Family.
Mohamed and Kenda Al Hariri, along with their two young sons arrived in Naramata on April 11th.
They felt they had no choice but to flee from their home in Daraa, Syria; the city was being bombed continually. In 2013, together with their six-month old son, they fled to Jordan where they stayed for three years. During that time their second boy was born.
Despite sharing a language, religion and culture, life wasn’t easy in Jordan. Huge numbers of refugees from Syria arrived every day, including two of Mohamed’s brothers. Refugees weren’t able to work legally and, desperate to feed their families, they were often taken advantage of.
Mohamed and his brothers heard that Canada was accepting refugees and that Canada is safe and would provide a good future for their children. They went through the registration and screening process and finally, all three brothers were accepted. For the Al Hariris, the decision to leave Jordan meant they would never see many of their relatives and friends again.
During the long stopover in Toronto, the Al Hariris formed a friendship with two other families with whom they would live in a hotel in Vancouver and then together eventually move to the Okanagan.
One month on, Kenda and Mohamed are excited about living in Naramata and about the bright future for their children. They feel safe and thankful. They tend the patch of grass in their front yard and admire the peacock that perches on their balcony. Their eldest boy is enjoying his mornings at play school, and Mohamed and Kenda are both enrolled in language classes at the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services where they see their friends from Summerland and Penticton often. They also take extra tutorial lessons in Naramata with an experienced team of ESL tutors. Everyone is amazed at their progress after just a few weeks.
Since the family’s arrival, many residents have stopped by to visit and have pitched in with donations that have so far provided an initial stock of groceries, small appliances, household curtains, carseats, stroller, bikes and a computer. As well, practical help has been given such as driving the family to town for English classes or shopping, doing household fixes, orientation to the community, tutoring and facilitating social events. The Naramata Centre made housing available and continues to provide support in maintaining the residence.
There are still many opportunities for volunteering and willingness can be indicated by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Al Hariris, like other families who fled their homes and homeland left with very little. It’s easy to understand that help is needed to replace items that they no longer have. While many necessities have been provided, there are some things still needed such as software programs, in particular, Rosetta Stone, which will aid in English language learning, and eventually, driving lessons for Mohamed. Donations are also needed to enable Annas to maintain attendance at play school. A fundraising drive is now underway in the hope that one of the Al Hariri brothers and his family can move to Naramata so that the families can be reunited.
There are several ways to donate to support our Syrian families:
1. By cash or cheque payable to NCSRI mailed to Renee Matheson, Box #125 Naramata BC V0H 1N0 or dropped off at the Martin Street Art and Music Gallery, 250 Martin Street Penticton. Open Mon. Thru Sat. 11:00 to 5:00.
2. To receive a tax deductible receipt for amounts over $20.00:
-by cash or cheque made out to P.D.M.S./S.O.I.C.S. (Penticton District and Multicultural Society and South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services). With cheques, please include Syrian Refugee Fund in the memo section. Please be sure to include your name, address and phone number. Please send donations to or visit the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services office at 508 Main Street, Penticton, BC, V2A 5C7.
-online through Paypal at www.soics.ca.
Many thanks to the Naramata community for their ongoing generosity and kindness.
Top photo: Mohamed Al Hariri and Sons
John Robertson of the Naramata Centre with the Al Hariri boys