Photo submitted/Story by Rob Rombouts
Wareeth Hilalih and Wazeera Khaddour and their two children are settling into their new home, thanks to the support of the Western University Community.
On May 24, the family made a 22-hour journey starting in Ankara, Turkey and ending in their new home in London. It was the culmination in of a two-year process to help bring the Syrian refugee family to Canada.
The Hilalihs were supported through funds raised through the Social Science Refugee Sponsorship fund, and sponsored by five families with connections across Western:
- Debra Jared (Professor, Department of Psychology) and John Mitchell (Acting Academic Dean and Vice Principal, Brescia University College)
- Johanna Weststar (Associate Professor, DAN Management) and Evan Jones
- Jim Dickey (Associate Professor, School of Kinesiology) and SheriLynn Kane (Associate Professor, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry)
- Mark Goldszmidt (Associate Professor, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry) and Michelle Brooks
- Wyn Millar and Bob Gidney (Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Education)
This is the second Syrian family that has been sponsored to come to Canada through the Western Social Science Refugee Sponsorship fund, spearheaded by Vicki Esses, (Professor, Department of Psychology). Many Western faculty, students, and staff donated to this fund and it is through their generous contributions that this sponsorship is possible.
The first sponsored family arrived in June 2016. As there were additional funds collected, a second group of sponsors came together and submitted an application to sponsor another family in the same month. The sponsorship group worked with Secil Erotrer, a graduate of Western’s PhD program in Sociology and Migration and Ethnic Relations, and Serdar Tekin, of The Society of Bridging People. Through these connections, the sponsorship group made contact with the Hilalih family.
The Hilalihs had escaped Syria and were living in Izmir, Turkey. From then, it was waiting for the immigration process to be completed. The family received news they were approved in December 2017.
“It’s a long time to wait while you are struggling to provide for the family,” said Jared.
For now, the Hilalihs have settled into a sublet in the University Heights neighbourhood, and their children, Ali and Raheel have started school.
“The family has shared their gratitude for being here, and are excited to be part of the community,” said Jared.
The sponsoring families will continue to provide support to the family, but Jared points out that Vicki Esses deserves recognition for her work in the process.
“You want to help and it takes someone to take the work on,” said Jared. “Vicki is to be credited for getting it moving from good intentions to action.”
“You can feel helpless with all the news and imagining the conditions people are trying to raise families in,” said Debra Jared. “You can’t help everyone, but we can help one family at a time. If you are doing that, at least you are doing something.”
Donations that would help the Hilalih family in their first year are greatly appreciated and can be directed to Debra Jared (firstname.lastname@example.org or SSC7330). Items of most use are gift cards or pre-paid credit cards for common goods and services like groceries, hardware, household and personal items, haircuts, and clothing. The group is also saving up for new beds and would appreciate help in that area.