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Aboud & Souad’s Story
Amena Shehab has been in Edmonton since 2012. She arrived with her three children as a refugee from the war in Syria. Her husband joined her in 2016. Amena and her family are safe. Together with Refugee Response Collective, Amena is sponsoring her sister Souad and her husband Aboud and their four children now in Lebanon and in the final stages of being brought to Canada through Mennonite Central Committee. Here is the story of Souad and Aboud, as told by Amena.
Souad was born and grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus. I called her my Souad and Souad in Arabic means "happiness". She always makes me happy. Before she got married, she studied education. After 16 years of teaching she did a Masters degree in education. One year she won the Children's Literature Award. Souad is a mother of four children.
In early 2016 Souad left the Syrian town of Almayaden where she worked as a teacher for 22 years. Her four children and her husband, Aboud experienced a lot of pain during the war. In 2012 her husband Aboud left Syria for Lebanon because, like many Syrian men, he was in danger. As a teacher, Souad stayed and volunteered extra hours teaching refugee children who were coming from various towns to Almayaden. When ISIS took control of their town, her and six male teachers of her volunteer group, all left for safety. She spent 20 hours in the desert, running with four children. At one point she was stopped. She thought her life was over. Finally they made it to the capital, Damascus. In 2014, when her oldest son turned 18, she sent him to join his Dad so he would not be conscripted into the government forces or worse. At the end of 2015, Souad became a refugee for the second time when she left for Lebanon with her remaining three children.
Aboud Salam, is an artist and high school art teacher since 1988. He worked hard to establish himself as an artist and had a successful studio in his hometown, with all his relatives. However, when the war started, he was a target and experienced death threats. He was forced to leave his family, his town, his country and his art behind. Much of his art was destroyed after ISIS took control and soon after his studio was bombed. His mother may have hidden some of his original art in an animal shed. She died recently in 2017. He dreams one day of returning to search for, and maybe to find, some of the art he left behind.
Aboud and Souad and their four children have received their UNHCR approval and are in the final stages of processing to come to Canada through MCC sponsored by Amena Shehab and Refuge Response Collective.