Syrian refugee group member: shares culture with school children in Fort St. James

The Syrian Refugee Crisis continues and one member of the Fort St. James Community is determined to make a difference.

  • Mar. 16, 2016 5:00 a.m.

Fatima Hatamleh helps students at David Hoy Elementary School in Fort St. James make decorations for the upcoming Syrian Refugee Ethnic Dinner set for March 19.

Barbara Latkowski

Caledonia Courier

The Syrian Refugee Crisis continues and one member of the Fort St. James Community is determined to make a difference.

Over 8 million Syrians have been displaced and over 4 million have fled conflict and poverty in hope of finding a better tomorrow elsewhere.

About 25,000 refugees are set to arrive in Canada in 2016.

But how is Canada helping these families make the transition? Can they adapt to a new community like Fort St. James?

These are questions that were presented by Fatima Hatamleh to students at David Hoy Elementary School on March 8.

Hatamleh, who is currently a member of the Syrian Refugee Group was at the school to make cards and decorations for an upcoming fundraiser that will go towards sponsoring two Syrian families in Fort St. James.

Hatamleh and her family are quite familiar with the struggles and challenges of coming to a new country.

Having moved to Canada from Jordon, Hatamleh has visited there since. She has seen the impact this crisis has had in her own country.

“Jordon was the first to open their doors to the Syrians. My own small town has taken in over 600,000 Syrians and this has affected electricity and water availability as well as job security.”

Hatamleh with her husband made the move to Canada in hope for a better future for themselves and their two children.

“We are not refugees but we are immigrants. We wanted a better opportunity in Canada for our kids and we have found it here in Fort St. James,” Hatamleh said.

“It’s so important that people here are taking interest, and these kids are really eager help and to learn more. They had so many good questions.”

Hatamleh provided clips and information about the current Syrian refugee crisis including the basic journey of a refugee, statistics and personal accounts of refuge children who were on their way to making a new start in Canada.

Discussion followed as students voiced their opinions and ideas.

Grade 3/4 students proceeded to make cards and decorations for the ethnic dinner fundraiser which will take place on March 19.

The dinner invites all to bring an ethnic dish to the school gym for a family night of food, fun, drumming, face painting and a musical performance by a Syrian family from Prince George.

“Bringing up a family in Fort St. James is the best thing we can do because we can then see the difference,” Hatamleh said.

“And it’s all about providing these people with opportunities. That means more to them than anything.”



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