Ten brothers and sisters from a newly-landed family of Somali refugees are getting excited and impatient waiting for classes to begin at their new schools in Winnipeg. The family of 11 siblings — one of them an 18-month-old baby — travelled from Saudi Arabia and touched down at Winnipeg’s James Armstrong Richardson International Airport on Jan. 14. The children range in age from eight to 16.
Hospitality House Refugee Ministry and the Anglican Diocese of Rupert’s Land sponsored the family, who had been hiding in Saudi Arabia for months under the threat of deportation. They’ve since reunited with their brother in Winnipeg. He made it to North America using a false passport more than a year ago at the age of 16. He eventually made his way to the U.S. border crossing in southern Manitoba, where he made an asylum claim.
Left to right, top to bottom: Kinda, 18 months; Nasiimo, 14; Mustafa, 10; Muna, 16; Amal, 11; Mohamed, 12; Huda, 13; Nima, 8; Yassin, 9; Ayan, 15; and Fahmi, 10. (Supplied) Karin Gordon, executive director of settlement with Hospitality House Refugee Ministry, said the children are becoming more comfortable in Winnipeg every day.
“They’re very happy. They finally are no longer afraid and are feeling confident and, you know, they’re just like normal kids,” Gordon said. The children have been out of school for several years and are getting eager to get back into the classroom, Gordon said: “They’re just gangbusters, ready to go,” Gordon said. “There are two children, the youngest children, who have never been to school at all.”