Syrian family offers a ‘thank you’ to welcoming town

The Othman family stands behind 40 meals prepared and donated to the Inn of the Good Shepherd last week. From left are, back row: Nour Alabdallah and Nasser Othman, and front row children Hasan, Ahmad, Taha and Mohamad. Troy Shantz

Troy Shantz

A family of Syrian refugees who came to Sarnia four years ago is giving back in a big way.

Nour Alabdallah and Nasser Othman bought the food for 40 meals they cooked and donated to the Inn of the Good Shepherd last week.

The meals were a traditional Middle Eastern dish called sambusa, served with rice and salad.

“I was lucky to have people to help me (and) I wanted to help some people, give a little thanks to the community here. This is a small thanks,” said Alabdallah, who needed the better part of a day to prepare and package the food.

“I hope to do it all the time now,” she said.

The family of six was one of two a collective of Anglican churches brought to Sarnia in 2016, said Linda Pickford, a volunteer with the group.

Alabdallah and Othman have four sons age three to nine, and the eldest boys play hockey and are doing well at school.

“Everybody really thinks well of them,” Pickford said. “They’re very practical people; they’re not wasteful.”

Othman worked at a garment factory in Syria and secured a job sewing commercial filters in Sarnia.

Ongoing conflict has forced more than 5.6 million refugees to flee Syria since 2011, according to the United Nations.

The family made a harrowing 12-hour escape from Damascus through the mountains when Alabdallah was seven months pregnant. They travelled at night, on foot, terrified of sniper fire.

They are among 50-plus Syrian refugees who have settled in Sarnia-Lambton since 2016. Most were sponsored privately by church groups.

The local Anglican churches learned about the families through a Canadian government program, and the process took about a year, Pickford said.

“They came because of war,” said Pickford, who noted fundraising is underway to bring an Iraqi family to Canada next.

“I want to thank all the community,” said Alabdallah. “I want to show how newcomers will be involved in the community. They will help. We didn’t come to Canada to sit and (waste) time.”