DIGBY, NS - After a year in Canada, the Kenaan family has settled in Digby and is putting down roots.
Their favourite part of living here? The peace, and the quiet.
It’s a very different life from the one they led in Lebanon, where they lived for three years as refugees after leaving Syria.
Rima and Shekrallah’s second youngest son, Molham, spins his toy cars throughout the family’s house as they discuss what life was like before they arrived in Digby.
“In Lebanon, they look at refugees like they aren’t even human,” says Rima, translated by son Ayham, the family’s unofficial interpreter.
The family managed to escape the Syrian conflict and lived as refugees in Lebanon for three years, but witnessed many tragedies in Syria before they could escape.
While walking around Homs, where they lived in Syria, Ayham and sisters Maysa and Maya, all then younger than 10-years-old, witnessed the explosion of a bomb that took the lives of their aunt and two cousins.
The explosion happened only ten feet from the children.
Shekrallah still carries pieces of shrapnel around his lungs from such explosions. Medication has helped dispel it, but he still feels them inside him every day.
They are little tiny pieces of the destruction that’s taken over the country they once called home. That country has deserted them and they have no intentions of returning.
Digby was and remains a welcome change for the family, who could not be happier with the town that’s become their home. They extend a massive ‘thank you’ to everyone who’s helped them. They were scared of what awaited them when they first arrived, and were surprised by the outpouring of help.
People like Beth Earle, who drives them to stores for shopping, and Evelyn and Leo Zackhour, who Rima says “have helped us greatly without ever asking for anything in return,” and Wendi Bradley, to whom Shekrallah refers to as his “Canadian mother” have helped the family immeasurably.