Sponsored Syrian refugee family arrives in Toronto

By John Keating

It has been a long wait, but a Syrian refugee family that people in Regal Heights helped to sponsor has finally arrived.

The Alaalyan family landed at Toronto Pearson Airport January 20, after a long flight from Lebanon where they had been living. They were greeted by another Alaalyan family – their closest relatives, who came to Toronto three years ago, through another sponsorship supported by the Regal Heights community.

Also on hand were few members of United Neighbours, the volunteer organization that organized the sponsorship.

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It was a tearful scene in the airport as the two families reunited after years apart. They then made their way to their new home – an apartment furnished with items donated by people from Regal Heights and beyond. The whole group celebrated with a hot meal and a special cake, decorated to look like a Canadian flag.

The family, including six children, has already started adapting to their new home. The children are starting school and the whole family is working to learn English.

The sponsorship could not have happened without the outpouring of generosity from people across the city, particularly in Regal Heights. Thanks to a successful fundraising effort, United Neighbours has enough money to take care of Alaalyans for the first year of their new life in Canada.

United Neighbours would like to thank the Regal Heights neighbourhood and the Regal Heights Residents’ Association for their support.

Below is an excerpt from the St. Matthew’s weekly newsletter

News and EventsUnited Neighbours Update – A Joyful Arrival and Reunion

On Monday afternoon the Alaalyan family arrived at Pearson Airport and were met by United Neighbours group members David Carter-Whitney, Alex Gill, Michael Smith as well as Mohamad, Sanaa and their 5 children, who they hadn’t seen in over 3 years. It was an emotional, happy end to a journey that began when they fled Syria 7 years ago. 
We then went to their new apartment and joined Susan Noakes and John Keating, who had ordered in food and a cake decorated as a Canadian flag. It was an evening of celebration and happiness. We are already starting the process of getting the kids into school and the parents into ESL classes, as well as other activities. Thanks for all the many kinds of support people have given. It is a great start.