The Soupateria soup kitchen in Penticton had a new international variety of food flavour to share with 144 hungry incoming patrons this past week — Syrian foods prepared by Sana and Majed Awad.
The Awad's provide quite the heartwarming success story.
Just over four years ago, Majed and Sana Awad and their three young children were waiting in exile in Jordan. Until then, they had lived their entire lives in the city of Dara’a in southern Syria where Majed farmed with his father and drove a vegetable truck. As a result of the still-ongoing civil war, Syrian and Russian armed forces threatened their town and their lives, forcing them and other family members to flee south into Jordan.
For three years they patiently waited to be welcomed into a new life in a new country. One day, a phone call came from the Canadian Embassy in Jordan.
In April 2016, the family, with no understanding of English, was greeted by the Penticton Ecumenical Refugee committee (PERC). The committee, consisting mainly of members of the United Church and St. Saviour’s Anglican Church came together in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. With support from the Canadian government, the group financially sponsored two Syrian families, including the Awads, and assisted with all the help needed for them to settle in Canada. This included housing and furnishings, medical, dental, employment, education for the children and Adult English classes for one full year after their arrival. The South Okanagan Immigrant Services were also very involved.
Fast forward to today in Penticton and the Awad family is steadily making Canada their new home - both Majed and Sana have acquired driver’s licences, Majed works as a stucco labourer, they both study English each week through Okanagan College and SOICS (South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services).
And now, four years after touching down in this country, the Awad family has five children — two born in Canada — all of them Canadian citizens and fluent in English. The older children are actively involved in basketball, swimming, karate and learning Arabic on weekends.
To show their gratitude to Canada and the city of Penticton, Sana Awad, with assistance from Majed, cooked up a Syrian feast of halal chicken, seasoned rice, salad, and two dessert, Baclava and Halawuh Aljabna),which was served at the regular daily lunch provided for free by the Soupateria.