Rabiaa and Tofic Al Zhouri now consider Antigonish their home.
Rabiaa sells sweets at the Farmers' Market in Antigonish.
Rabiaa reupholstered a second-hand couch for her home. When people saw it, they encouraged her to start a furniture upholstery business, a service that does not exist in Antigonish. She has many contracts and has set up her workshop in her home.
Rabiaa's husband Tofic, when not working himself, helps her in some of the heavier aspects of her craft. Her son Majd designed her business card.
Because of the war in Syria, the Al Zhouri children missed 5 years of schooling. Rabiaa never thought she would see any of her three children graduate from high school. She said her heart jumped when Majd, her eldest son, appeared in his regalia at his graduation ceremony a year and a half after arriving in Antigonish.
Lise de Villiers, coordinator of ACALA (Antigonsh County Adult Learning Association), has been tutoring Majd Al Zouri in English. She suggested that he write from his experience. Majd recounted the three incidents, over the year and a half in which he was separated from his mother and siblings, in which he thought his father had died. Members of the Antigonish theatre community encouraged and helped Majd to turn this very poignant story into a one-act play. His play To Eat an Almond won the National Artivism Award, an award for new immigrants using art to tell their story.
Majd, in the year and a half since he and his family settled in Antigonish, learnt English, wrote and performed his one act play To Eat an Almond, graduated with a high school diploma and was accepted into Engineering at St. Francis Xavier University.
Aghyad Al Zhouri along with fellow Syrian newcomer Mohammad Eliman continue studying with Karen Foley, an English tutor from ACALA, during the summer months. Both young men will soon be finishing high school.
Aghyad has a summer job at the Tall and Small Café.
Ranim Al Zhouri has a summer job at the library. She will continue working part-time at the library during the school year.
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All Photographs courtesy of Stephanie Colvey.