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Syrian refugee to be reunited with family

And he got to translate for the royal couple
Mohammed Alsaleh
Mohammed Alsaleh and Deana Brynildsen at her home in New Westminster. Brynildsen read about Alsaleh, a refugee from Syria, in the Record, and invited him over to meet her friends. Now she’s crowdfunding to help bring his family to Canada.

A young Syrian refugee, whose story was first covered in the Record last fall, is basking in the glow of good news.

Mohammed Alsaleh has recently learned the application to sponsor his family has been approved, and his mother and siblings will be joining him in Canada.

“That’s wonderful,” Alsaleh said. “I’m still high on that moment.”

The family will likely arrive in 2017, although Alsaleh is hoping they will arrive by Christmas.

“If we have them here by Christmas, it will be the most wonderful thing that happened in my whole life, and I would look at this as the achievement of my lifetime.”

Record reader Deana Brynildsen started the online campaign that raised more than $30,000 to sponsor the family, and local residents donated. The Anglican Diocese of New Westminster filed the private sponsorship application, and St. Albans Anglican Church in Burnaby will help with settlement services: taking the family grocery shopping or helping register the kids for school, for example.

Alsaleh’s widowed mother, two sisters and three brothers will all be together for the first time in years, after they were separated by the Syrian war. 

But that’s not all. Alsaleh was also called on to translate for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their visit to the Immigrant Services Society of B.C.’s new Welcome Centre on Sunday.

“The royal couple shared with us, with the family and me, that they really feel sad for the loss of souls and for the loss of people and the destruction and devastation that happened in our country,” Alsaleh said. “And at the same time, I felt the duke and duchess were so curious about what was happening. They wanted to listen, and they wanted to learn first-hand about what’s happening there. But at the same time, they were cautious; they made sure not to bring any bad memories for the families that they meet. They were so careful, and they handled it so well.”

“I was so appreciative for his highness to take the time to listen to me and my thoughts,” he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire were also part of the visit.