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Getting ready to welcome Syrian family to Yarmouth

Tony Dorrian (left), co-chair of the St. Ambrose refugee committee in Yarmouth, looks on from the doorway as Garnet Banks does some work on the house that volunteers have prepared for a Syrian refugee family coming to Yarmouth.
Tony Dorrian (left), co-chair of the St. Ambrose refugee committee in Yarmouth, looks on from the doorway as Garnet Banks does some work on the house that volunteers have prepared for a Syrian refugee family coming to Yarmouth. - Eric Bourque

Originally expected to come to Yarmouth in late May, a Syrian refugee family is now scheduled to arrive July 20.

A spokesman for the St. Ambrose refugee committee says they are looking forward to welcoming the family of eight to Yarmouth.

The family’s children range in age from a year-and-a-half to 13, said Tony Dorrian, co-chair of the St. Ambrose group.

In the days leading up to May 30 – the family’s initially scheduled arrival date – volunteers were busy getting a house ready for them, only to learn their arrival had been postponed. The delay was said to be due to a health-related issue, although the committee wasn’t given many details, Dorrian said. The family has since been cleared to come to Canada.

“We’re regrouping again just to go over the logistics from last time because we were ready (to welcome the family in late May), right down to meals in the fridge,” Dorrian said.

Interviewed the morning of July 12, he said, “We met briefly yesterday, just to go over a little fine-tuning details on the house, so committee members went around, looked around for just little issues, so now we’re sort of child-proofing the house a little bit and putting in things like that and just doing some finishing touches.”

 Dorrian – who co-chairs the St. Ambrose refugee committee with his wife, Patti – spoke again, as he did a couple of months ago, about how members of the community have come together to support this initiative, helping any way they can.

Villa Saint-Joseph du Lac, for example, has offered the use of its van to go pick up the family in Halifax.

Referring to the work that went into getting the house ready, Dorrian said, “Everyone stepped up. We had painters. We had help with flooring, plumbing.” (The house, which was not being used, is owned by a St. Ambrose parishioner.)

For some time, the St. Ambrose group had been trying to bring two other Syrian refugee families to Yarmouth. These were two brothers – each with a wife and two children – and they initially had been expected to arrive around the end of 2015. The committee has since learned that one of those families won’t be coming after all. They still hope the other one will make it.

For now, the focus is on this new family. One of the things the local committee is looking to do early on, Dorrian said, is to get the family’s children perhaps involved in some Yarmouth Recreation activities, so that they will have a chance to meet some other kids in advance of the school year.

“We’re pretty happy to get them here and welcome them to the community,” he said.

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