Okanagan College student hoping for bright future in Kelowna

For Maher Alasmar, Okanagan College has become like a home away from home. It’s where the 31-year-old man spends a lot of his time taking classes and learning English.

“English is very important for us,” Maher Alasmar said. “The key for our life.”

Alasmar, his wife and four young children are one of 20 new Syrian families that now call Kelowna home.

“I found my life here, this is my dream,” Maher Alasmar said.

The dream began in Dec. 2015 when the family first arrived in the central Okanagan. They didn’t speak a word of English and now a year later, that has changed.

“We talk English here in the house, my husband help me for English [sic],” Emtithal Alasmar said.

With a two year old son, and a four-month-old baby, Emtithal Alasmar stays at home while her husband and two oldest boys go to school.

Khaled is five-years old and Aboud is four. Both are almost fluent in English after only a year in school.

Maher Alasmar, a former construction worker in his native Syria, has an electrical job lined up for this spring and hopes to eventually get a degree in engineering.

The family ended up in Kelowna thanks to what’s called a blended sponsorship between the federal government and the Mission Creek Alliance Church. While the church’s six-month sponsorship commitment is officially over, it continues supporting the family financially.

“Because we wanted Maher to have a strong English so he will get a good sustaining job, the committee decided they wanted to keep the sponsorship going at least until the end of the semester so that he can just get stronger in english and be ready to step into an apprenticeship at some point,” church volunteer Colleen Hanscom said. “I think they have a bright future.”

The Alasmars say they have high hopes for their children growing up in Canada.

“That each one of them has his degree and he work very good job in Canada [sic],” Maher Alasmar said.

The Alasmars are among 40,000 new Syrian refugees that now call Canada home. Despite the controversy surrounding the immigration, they say the Okanagan has welcomed them with open arms and they believe all of the Syrian newcomers should work very hard to give back to the country that gave them so much in a time of need.

“Canada gave us all things now when difficult time, we are in, we should give Canada all things,” Maher Alasmar said.

As a gesture of gratitude, the couple named their youngest child to honour the country they now love. Called Kinda, the baby girl’s name means Canada in Arabic.

“I want people to know we are very thankful and we appreciate what they did not just (for) me but all refugees across Canada,” Maher Alasmar said.

Original content from: Global News

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