The Holy Name of Mary parish in Almonte welcomes the Jarous family to Almonte.
They arrived January 14, having travelled from Beirut to Aman and then to Toronto, leaving for Ottawa and then Almonte the next day. Mr. and Mrs Jarous and their children, aged 9 and 5, were tired but relieved to be safely in Canada. The family is staying with the Moore family in Almonte before moving into their rental home, also in Almonte.
The Jarous family spent three years in the Bekka Valley in Lebanon after fleeing Homs in Syria, which experienced some of the worst fighting in that country’s civil war. They lived for three years with 12 other people in a church basement the size of a large Canadian kitchen — one room with one toilet, not close at hand.
The father says the sound of exploding bombs in Homs still haunts him and his wife, but the children appear not to be traumatized by their experience. Both have overcome their shyness with the host family and are enjoying adventures in the snow.
Mr. Jarous notices the peace and stillness in Almonte. He thanks God and all those in Almonte who made this possible for his family. He and his wife say that their first priorities and biggest challenges will be to learn English and to ensure the education of their children.
This will be a busy week for them. After being introduced to the Holy Name of Mary congregation on Sunday, they are now meeting other members of the HNM refugee committee and residents of Almonte. Father Ben Iheagwara, parish priest at HNM, thanked parishioners and non-parishioners alike who have helped bring the family to Almonte.
They have a series of appointments this week: seeing a local doctor, applying for OHIP, establishing banking, going grocery shopping, etc. Their rental home is fully furnished thanks to the generosity of parishioners and others in Almonte. The family knows that other Syrian families will be coming to Almonte because of the hard work and generosity of the Mississippi Mills Syrian Refugee Committee. Many local residents are contributing to this effort.
Father Ben invites all folks in Mississippi Mills to support the Jarous family, and other families as they arrive, with the same generosity they have shown to date. He said that as a newcomer himself to Almonte he is overwhelmed with the spirit of generosity in our community.
Mr. Jarous said there was a time in Syria when there was peace. He and his wife helped and supported the poor. Then they became the poor.
He thanks all those who have helped his family from the bottom of his heart. His purpose in life now is to make a better future for his children in Canada and to give back to our community if he can in the years ahead. He is proud to be a permanent resident of Canada, no longer a refugee.