Good Neighbors

Community Rallies To Make Refugee Family Feel At Home

You'll be surprised at the truly Canadian way they welcomed their new neighbors.


Imagine being in a new country where you don't know anybody, there's a language barrier and your closest friends are a world away. Things can get pretty lonely.

That's what life is like for many refugees when they arrive in their new home countries.

A young Syrian boy named Yamen knows this firsthand. The third grader recently settled in Newfoundland, a province of Canada, with his mom and three siblings. Sadly, Yamen's father wasn't able to come with them, so along with being alone in a new country they're also without one of their parents.

Luckily, the people in Newfoundland welcomed Yamen and his family with open arms. They helped them find furniture, a place to live and made sure the kids got settled in school.

But the community's kindness doesn't end there.

It being Canada and all, most of the kids at Yamen's school play hockey. While he never picked up a stick in his life, he was itching to learn the sport so he could join his classmates.

So, when a student in Yamen's class went home and told his father, Michael Doyle, that the new kid wanted to play, he grabbed an old pair of skates and took Yamen out for his first lesson at the local skating rink.

Doyle took to social media to round up more equipment for Yamen so that he could join the school's youth hockey league. Shortly after, pairs of ice skates, pads, and hockey bags started appearing at Yamen's door.

@CJPDoyle

It gets better.

When a local sports supply store found out about Yamen, they offered to give him brand new equipment, all for free. Messages started coming in from people all over the region who wanted to donate items and pitch in money for the family.

A local journalist went to the sports store with Yamen and shared some photos he took to social media. He said that Yamen was smiling ear to ear, and was so excited that he went and shook everyone's hand in the store, one by one.

@MuhammadLila

When Yaman got to pick out what kind of tape he wanted to wrap his stick with, he didn't hesitate. He chose the option with Maple Leafs on it so that he would always have the flag of his new country with him.

@MuhammadLila

Along with the photos, the journalist, Muhammed Lila, shared his Canadian pride.

"Canada isn't perfect, but it can still be a place where ordinary people come together to tell a refugee family that we care," he wrote. "That his mom doesn't have to go it alone. That they belong."

Days after he made the post, Lila was still getting messages from others who wanted to help. Since the fees for playing hockey can be expensive, people in the community wanted to be sure the family was covered for a couple of seasons. Yamen's three siblings got brand new hockey equipment, too.

What a sweet story of kindness and acceptance. Kudos to the people of Newfoundland for welcoming Yamen and his family to their new home and proving that immigrants can make a community stronger.

@MuhammadLila

Here's another Sparkt story about Newfoundlers helping people (turns out, they're well-known for their acts of kindness!):

Community Rallies To Feed Stranded Passengers

How can you start something good?

Why not take the lead of our neighbors to the North and spread kindness whenever you can? You can reach out to organizations in your community that help refugees, or contribute to charities like UNICEF and Save the Children that help refugee children get the resources they need. Let's #StartSomethingGood together.

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