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Syrian refugee children settle in Halifax for dialysis treatment at IWK

Family destined for Saint John but children’s medical needs better served in Halifax

By Elizabeth Chiu, CBC News Posted: Feb 12, 2016 6:00 AM AT Last Updated: Feb 12, 2016 8:22 AM AT

Sisters Zeyn and Viyana Ali require dialysis treatment.

Sisters Zeyn and Viyana Ali require dialysis treatment. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

Halifax’s newest arrivals of Syrian refugees are a family of six redirected here because two of their children need specialized medical treatment at the IWK Health Centre.

The Ali family was supposed to settle in Saint John, N.B., under a sponsorship arrangement with Grand Bay Baptist Church.

But last week, church members learned the two oldest children, 13-year-old Viyana and her 10-year-old sister Zeyn, require pediatric dialysis three times a week.

Halifax church helped quickly

So the call for help went out around Halifax, and the Beechville Lakeside Timberlea refugee sponsorship group jumped to help.

“For what this family’s endured and the arduous journey they had to make from Syria to Turkey, you know, we can’t say no,” said Ben John, one of the board members of the BLT group.

“We have two young children that [are] in dire need of medical assistance, so we had to make things happen and move things around.”

Syrian refugees welcomers.

The Ali family and a welcoming party at Halifax Stanfield Airport. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

‘She’s coming home’

John was among about 20 people who showed up Thursday at Halifax Stanfield Airport with balloons, toys and handwritten signs for the Alis. Also in the welcoming party was Mamdouh Hzim, a Syrian refugee who arrived in Halifax New Year’s Day, and is also sponsored by the group.

They clapped and hugged Narin Haci Ali, Muhammed Besir Ali and their four children as they entered the arrivals area.

“She feels like she’s coming to family,” said Haci Ali through volunteer interpreter Hadeel Dalloul.

“She’s coming home.”


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