Like so many Syrians, the Al Dakhil family fled their home town because of extreme violence and insecurity. Various bomb threats at their children’s school, the looming danger of gunfire around their home and, finally, a gunshot injury to Mr. Dakhil’s foot, drove them to take the final decision: escape from Syria to Lebanon.

The war wouldn’t permit an easy way out. Anyone carrying a bag or travelling in groups of two or more was detained by armed soldiers and sent back home. Mrs. Dakhil managed to hide her son, Yasir, in the back seat of a car while leaving the country. The rest of the family followed her, one by one, leaving everything behind. They are among the lucky families that made it to Lebanon safely. They stayed with relatives in Lebanon for two years until they heard the good news of possibly going to Canada.

Father Pierre Champoux of Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Parish in Kanata, contacted Julie Salach-Simard at CCI Ottawa about sponsoring a family to come to Ottawa. CCI Ottawa’s Sponsorship Program has supported many churches across the city in sponsoring families from Syria.

“We were amazed with the response,” says Mary-Lou Hakansson, of the organizing committee. “Some people can give money, some can give their time and others can donate furniture and household items for the family. We needed all three. We had 30 people join our committee and we received far more furniture and household items than what the family could use. We were able to give items to other families.”

“We have lost our family, but we won a big family,” says Mr. Al Dakhil, referring to the Holy Redeemer church.

(Watch video clip)