A Syrian refugee family of nine expected to arrive at the Sudbury Airport this afternoon will be greeted by quite a contingent of people wishing to welcome them.
The Alzahran family is made up of a mother and father, two daughters aged three and five, and five sons aged nine, 12, 13, 15 and 18. They arrived in Toronto last night, and are due to arrive at the Sudbury airport at 3:25 p.m. today.
A committee of United Church, Catholic and Anglican church members from Capreol and Valley East who sponsored the family will be at the airport, as will a group of teens from Bishop Alexander Carter Catholic Secondary School.
The crowd is even expected to include the Qarqoz family, another Syrian refugee family that arrived in the Nickel City on New Year's Eve.
The Alzahran family will be living at a rectory attached to Our Lady of Peace Roman Catholic Church in Capreol.
The building is vacant because the church's priest, Father Michael Williams, lives at the rectory attached to St. Kevin's Roman Catholic Church in Val Therese, where he's also the parish priest.
The Capreol-Valley East Refugee Sponsorship group raised $41,000 in donations to pay for the large family's first year in Canada.
Father Williams said he'll be at the airport to greet the family, and admits to being more than a little excited.
“I've been working on this for awhile,” he said. “When I first got the news a couple days ago, it was a little surreal it's finally happening.”
Williams said the Alzahran family has been living at a refugee camp in Lebanon, but doesn't have a lot of other details about them.
He said they've learned some of the family members know some English, but he's not sure how much. They'll have an Arabic speaker on hand to translate at the airport and on the way back to Capreol.
It's great that the Syrian refugee family who arrived last week will also be there, Williams said.
“That's tremendous news,” he said. “Of course, they speak Aramaic as well.”
While the federal government provides the refugees with warm winter clothing, the local committee will take them shopping for anything else they need once they're here and settled in.
“We've been disadvantaged by not knowing the exact sizes (for clothes),” Williams said.
Several more Syrian refugee families are expected to arrive in Sudbury early this year. To find out how you can help, email firstname.lastname@example.org.