PICTOU — The Casim family from Syria is approaching a one-year milestone since their arrival in Pictou.
February 28 will mark the one-year anniversary for Abdul Kadir Casim, his wife Lema and their two children who have been living in Pictou since they landed at Stanfield International Airport last year.
Pictou United Church is hosting an open house for the Casims at 6 p.m. on March 1 to celebrate the family’s residency in Pictou under sponsorship of the CAiRN group.
The family members have advanced steadily and formidably from its Syrian refugee status to establish themselves as citizens sharing their appreciation of the town’s intimacy and waterfront setting and their regard for the CAiRN group.
“We’re very pleased,” said Donna Collins, a member of the CAiRN group. “It’s been very hard for me personally but I felt so strongly about doing this. They need family and they need us as family. It’s been very rewarding.”
Omer’s English is improving over his time in school, but Collins has also marvelled at how his parents’ language skills have advanced.
Collins said the several months Abdul Kadir has been working at the Advocate has been a vital part of the success story, as has Lema’s exposure offering food for sale at the New Glasgow Farmers Market.
“Lema can get a point across when the language escapes her,” Collins said. “She loves working at the market and she loves being a woman in Canada. It’s a little different in Islam but Abdul Kadir is a good husband. They are definitely a team. They’re both very gregarious and outgoing.”
CAiRN is currently working on bringing Lema’s sister and her sister’s husband and two young girls and a cousin to Pictou soon. The family is being processed through Algeria and France.
A bonus during the year has been to have met Ahmet Nassrat, who currently resides in Pictou and helps with translation between Arabic and English.
“He lived in Pictou and we’d never met,” Collin said. “He’s a great guy.”
It was Nassrat’s father, who lives in Halifax, who transported the Casim family from the airport to Pictou when they arrived a year ago.
Abdul Kadir Casim, left, stands with his wife Lema while holding their daughter Aise. Standing in front is their son Omer. (Goodwin photo)