The Alrayes family, who arrived in Montreal in July of 2017, are the third refugee family to have been sponsored by a group composed of interdenominational lay and religious collaborators including several Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) and SNJM Associates.
Filled with memories of the atrocities experienced in Syria and worries about family members still there, the family has had to adapt to a new country, with a different language and alphabet; a challenging climate, especially in winter; and so many different ways of doing things (food shopping, banking practices, municipal regulations, etc.) It has certainly been a challenge and it continues to be so.
The family has often expressed gratitude for the untiring support of members of the Refugee Sponsorship Committee of St. Monica’s Parish. From the very beginning they have been blessed by the presence of exceptional volunteers. Tutors have provided instruction five times a week both for the children enrolled in “classes d’accueil” (welcome classes) and for the parents who have attended government-funded French classes.
In September 2018, the father, Ziad, accepted a maintenance job at a seniors’ residence. Although he had to abandon his full-time French classes before fully mastering the French language, and although he speaks little English, the seniors are fond of him and he has a wonderful, considerate boss who is helping him to adapt.
The mother, Eman, is continuing her government-sponsored French courses but is hoping soon to enter a special program for refugees, preparing them for work as cooks or pastry chefs. She is certain to do well since she is already an excellent cook and a very creative one as well.
All four children are integrating into Quebec society and are looking forward to moving to regular classes soon. The older daughter Abeer (age 17) hopes to complete high school in June of 2020. She will then attend CEGEP. The older son Ziad-Mohamed (age 15) attends École Secondaire St-Henri and also works part-time at a fast-food restaurant. The younger children, Mariam (age 11) and Yousef (age 7) attend École Les Enfants du Monde.
Recently the family invited the sponsorship committee and tutors to a home-made supper at their home where all enjoyed great food prepared by Eman.
What an unforgettable evening of Muslim hospitality this was - an evening filled with stories and laughter. And what a great opportunity to marvel again at this family’s amazing generosity, courage, faith and openness.
This family never ceases to impress the sponsorship committee. Each member is reminded over and over again that the sponsorship relationship is a mutually-enriching experience, a beautiful life-giving gift.