Syrian teen who translated for Surrey Christmas bureau enlists his brother

November 21, 2018

By Vancouver Sun |

Khaled Alderwish last year was able to pay it forward by volunteering at the Surrey Christmas Bureau, which is partly funded by The Province Empty Stocking Fund, translating for Syrian families that needed the same kind of help.

The Surrey Christmas Bureau is one of the first places refugees to Canada like the Aldarwish family of Surrey are welcomed into the country, with gifts for the children and extra food and clothing.

Khaled, 14, and Hussein, 13, the family’s two eldest boys, remembered the experience when they arrived in Canada from war-torn Syria. They recalled how some kind Syrians who had arrived before them had translated for them so they could navigate the strange custom of Christmas in a foreign city.

And Khaled last year was able to pay that forward by volunteering at the Surrey Christmas Bureau, which is partly funded by The Province Empty Stocking Fund, translating for Syrian families that needed the same kind of help.

“I loved that job,” he said of the volunteer opportunity while at the kitchen table of the family’s three-bedroom basement suite in the house of the family that sponsored them. He said it gave him joy to see families struggling with big issues of housing and employment receive kind gestures for their children.

“They give them some games and maybe some clothes,” he said.

And Khaled, who this year is focusing on his studies while attending Grade 9 at Kwantlen Park Secondary, is equally happy to pass the baton to Hussein, who looks forward to helping out this year on weekends.

“I feel happy because I help the people from my country,” said Hussein, who’s in Grade 8 at Kwantlen Park. “It feels happy. I like how the people helped me when I came, so I help them.”

The two teens share the house with father Abdullah, mother Nadiah, younger brothers Mahmoud, 11, Saleh, 5, Ibrahim, 3, and sister Miriam, 8.

The family was part of the wave of Syrians who fled their home, unrecognizable because of the years of battles for land and power by ISIS, rebel fighters and the Syrian army. They came from Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria.

After being the scene of clashes between the Syrian army and rebels in the early years of the civil war, Deir ez-Zor was besieged by ISIS forces more than 3½ years ago. The siege was lifted by a Syrian army offensive last year.

Read more


Back