By Justin Seward
Syrian mother Najah and her three boys Yo’rob, Asad and Ayham Brimo have settled into Bow Island nicely since arriving in the town back in November after being in Lebanon as a refugee family for eight years.
The opportunity was made possible when Shayla Hopkins started the Bow Island Refugee Committee in August and with the help from the Mennonite Central Committee through Canada’s Blended Visa Office-Referred Refugee Sponsorship Program, that the family was able to start a new life in Canada.
“Things have been pretty good,” said Hopkins, committee member.
“They were pretty excited when they picked them up at the airport, pretty happy to be here. They’ve been really appreciative. The boys are in school and I think they’re enjoying being at school.
“The mom is in English classes and that’s been going well. They’ve been improving their English.
The boys attend St. Michael’s School.
“I think the initial meeting is better then I anticipated. They’re very happy, warm and friendly,” said Hopkins.
“The boys are very outgoing and friendly.”
Hopkins says the family is “quite settled,” and learning more of the culture and how things work.
Upon their arrival to town, the committee hosted a supper as well as a couple Christmas parties and the Joy of Giving brought the family some items.
With furniture donations, the committee was able to completely furnish the house and basic groceries were in the home as well while school supplies, backpacks and toys were donated.
“It’s nice to see all the support from the community. It’s been encouraging,” she said.
Ayham is the oldest and is in Grade 3/4 split, Asad is in Grade 2 and Yo’rob is in Grade 1 at the school and for staff it has been nothing short of a great learning experience.
Jill Weatherhead is the inclusive education liaison and looks after kids who need supports including the boys who have no English and need that service.
“They are immersed fully in our classrooms,” said Weatherhead.
“They’re involved as much as possible in listening to the lessons and participating when they can and writing as best they can. They are starting from scratch as far as alphabet and language writing and reading. We do have to differentiate much of our lessons for that ability.
“They are learning and we are just focusing on the oral aspects of the language. They are hearing alot of vocabulary-rich environments.”
The students have become leaders in helping the boys out with vocabulary skills.
“I think for our students knowing that there is a student sitting beside them that is just learning everything new for the very first time, it’s really neat to have our students being on the teaching side of things in some cases,” she said.
“Our students can help them say words like ‘may I go to the bathroom.’ They don’t have to be star readers to help them with their alphabet. Our students are turning into leaders in some ways and they realize they can be a big help to somebody.”
Weatherhead describes the boys as “ three athletic, energetic boys.”
“As far as the students interact, if they can be moving and kicking a ball and jumping and running, there’s no language barrier for that.”