Star gift boxes make Syrian children escaping war ‘so happy’

In News by MIIC

Mohamad Almobayed and Muna Alasfoor, with one of their four kids. “The children will be so happy for receiving these boxes,” said Muna of the Santa Claus Fund gift boxes. (Jaren Kerr / TORONTO STAR)

Muna Alasfoor and Mohamad Almobayed feel they still have much to learn after coming to Canada as Syrian refugees nearly two years ago.

The couple arrived here from Syria via Jordan in February 2016, having fled Damascus, Syria’s capital city, where violence and conflict have been a constant threat for years.

They settled in Scarborough, where they are raising four kids, and taking English classes every weekday.

“The most important goal is to reach the level of English where they can speak fluently,” said Rana Ammar, a settlement worker at the Mennonite New Life Centre, an organization in Scarborough that helps newcomers such as Muna and Mohamad resettle in Canada and learn English.

“There is nothing in common” between Arabic and English, Mohamad told the Star with a chuckle. He said that the most difficult thing is learning how to write in the new language, which requires learning a new alphabet.

Through the resettlement centre, the family received Santa Fund gift boxes for their children last year, and will again this year. Muna said the gifts — which include necessities such as warm clothes and dental care — helped them when they arrived in their new country.

“The children will be so happy for receiving these boxes,” she said.

The Santa Claus Fund provides 45,000 underprivileged children aged 12 and younger in Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Pickering and Ajax with gift boxes at Christmas. Recipients receive a warm shirt (toddlers get a fleece-lined tracksuit while newborn infants get a five-piece set that includes onesies), a warm hat, warm gloves or mittens, socks, a toy, a book, cookies and dental hygiene items (aged 4 and up) inside.

For many of the kids, it’s the only present they’ll receive.

Muna and Mohamad are thrilled to be in Canada after facing strife in Syria. A highlight was a three-day trip to Ottawa, admiring the architecture of the Parliament Buildings, and meeting Ahmed Hussen, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

News Source: