TEEWP members enjoyed a perfectly timed picnic with our new Syrian friends last Sunday at Greenwood Park in the city’s east end. Not long after we polished off the kebabs and salads and Yasmeen’s decadent cake, the sky opened and dumped buckets of rain on the park. We escaped just in time.
Before the rain, we had a few hours to catch up with Mohamed and Ilham Al Chebli and their four children, the government-assisted refugee family we’ve been helping since February. Two other refugee families joined us as well, bringing our Syrian guest list to 17. The children raced around the park, climbing the slides, kicking around a soccer ball and posing for photos with a statute at the site. They gobbled up the potluck fare. Julie’s chocolate chip cookies and Yasmeen’s layer cake were big hits.
Although the language barrier can make casual chats a challenge, TEEWP members and the Syrians did their best to communicate using simple words, hand gestures, and in some cases, the help of the children. It’s amazing to see how swiftly the four Al Chebli kids, especially the older ones, are picking up English. The children from the other families, who live in the Al Cheblis’ building at Main and Gerrrard, also seem to be grasping the language well.
Our co-chair, Kelly Lynne Ashton, has posted more pictures of the picnic to Facebook. She has also arranged to have Ramadan food baskets delivered to all three families at Main and Gerrard through the Clothing Drive. We’re wishing the Al Cheblis and their friends a wonderful first Ramadan in Canada.