Naseer Al Zoubane arrived in Canada on February 16, 2016 after four years of living in a refugee camp. He, his wife, and their children were fleeing the conflict in Syria, and Canada’s federal government was running a program called Operation Syrian Refugees. Working with private sponsors, organizations, lower levels of government, and international partners, Canada welcomed more than 25,000 Syrian refugees into the country by the end of February 2016. Al Zoubane and his family were some of the last to arrive, as the program ended soon after.
Al Zoubane started a barbershop in Rockland called 5STARS Barber Shop, where he works with two of his sons. His wife stays at home and looks after the two youngest children, who are currently in high school and grade 6. His second son lives in Germany, because he was too old to qualify for Canada’s refugee program. He walked overland from the refugee camp to Germany to apply for asylum, a hellish journey fraught with peril. Now, he works to sponsor his own wife and children to join him there.
However, all is not well. Naseem, Al Zoubane’s oldest at 30, was too old to be considered by the refugee program, and he was left behind with his wife in the refugee camp.
“When we started preparing our things to travel to Canada, everyone was crying a lot because it was the first time that we separated from each other,” Al Zoubane said. “After such a long time in Canada, our happiness remains incomplete because my family remains separated from each other.”
Now, the Canadian government has launched new programs to help current residents sponsor family members to immigrate, so Al Zoubane is looking to apply on behalf of his son and daughter-in-law. Al Zoubane has partnered with the Rockland Community Church to gather donations from citizens and organizations throughout the community. They need to raise $25,000 to submit the sponsorship application; donations are collected by the church, and the paperwork is done by another partner organization called World Renew.
“When we meet our eldest and his wife in Canada, I will be king of the world,” said Al Zoubane. “I am so happy to meet a part of my family after I lost hope of meeting him again.”
They’re hoping to raise the money within the next two months, because although there is no deadline, the processing time for applications is very long. Donations can be made care of the Rockland Community Church, either by e-transfer, Paypal giving fund, Canada Help, or by cheque payable to the church.