County News


Posted: November 14, 2017 at 12:47 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

New documentary coincides with the second anniversary of the Al-Jasem’s arrival

It’s been two years since the Al-Jasem family arrived from Syria and joined our community. To help celebrate that milestone, there is a documentary soon to be released about their arrival to the County, with the help of PECSyria. It is called Sponsorland: and there is a special free screening this Friday, November 10 at the Regent Theatre at 7p.m. followed by a Q&A.

Slieman Al-Jasem in a still from the documentary Sponsorland.

Michelle Hozer, director of the documentary moved her family to the County to make the film, and was happy she did. She would not have been able to capture this story if she was commuting from the city. She needed to be here every day to see how things were developing for the Al-Jasem family. One of the things that initially drew Hozer to the PEC Syria sponsorship was that the family was coming to a rural area.

“You always hear about refugees moving to larger cities, but you hardly hear about a rural story, where a community has to really get behind the family to make it succeed,” said Hozer. “The logistics of having 11 children in an area with no public transit system alone is mind-boggling.”
Raising money for sponsorship programs is important, but that is the easiest part. The emotional and physical commitment to being there for a family in need is the intense part, and in a small town there are only so many people and services you can count on for help. It would feel like a job sometimes, but for sponsors like Robin Baranyai, it’s something more. “It’s been one of the greatest joys of my life to spend time with the Al-Jasem family and help them in whatever way they need. I’m also proud to see them get so involved in our community, they go to every event and are always giving back,” she said

Ramez Al-Jasem leans on his new car.

Over the past two years, the Al-Jasem family have been very busy working and starting businesses. Here is an update about how some of the family members are making waves in our community.

Sawsan, the matriarch of the family is launching Shway Shway catering. She delivers Middle Eastern food meant to be enjoyed family style.

Nasr and his wife Nabiha have started up a catering company called “Nabiha and Nasr’s travelling Kitchen” cooking and teaching how to make authentic Syrian food for large parties and groups.

Adnan and his wife Suhalia have a business called Papaghanoush, selling dips and spreads to local stores.

Eldest son Slieman has a job at the Drake Devonshire (recently voted one of Canada’s top hotels by Conde Nast magazine). Younger son Ramez is working at Mc- Donald’s, where he has already been promoted. Both Slieman and Ramez are very proud to say they each now own a car.

A community like ours should feel proud and excited that the energy put forth has come back tenfold, and that a family new to this country can achieve so much in so little time. Sponsorship applications are still in the works for three of Abdel Malek’s brothers, so if any County residents are interested in sponsoring a family, there will be more opportunities in the future to get involved.