A long journey's end


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January 12, 2016 11:11 AM

Jaime Polmateer photo Adel (right) and Rana (left) Bittar fled with their family from Syria to Lebanon in 2012. After three years in limbo they've finally arrived at their new home in Lloydminster where they'll get a new start to work and raise their two children. Their arrival and transition were sponsored by St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church.

After three years in displacement, one family of Syrian refugees can hang their hats in a place they can finally call home.
The Bittar family, who’ve been spending the last few years seeking refuge in Lebanon, touched down in Canada on Jan.1 after an overseas trip that took more than 40 hours to complete.
“(It feels) very good,” said Adel Bittar, the family’s father and husband, on finally reaching Canada.
The Bittar’s fled their home of Aleppo, Syria in 2012 when civil war broke out, and after an extended stay in Lebanon, were able to come live in Lloydminster with help from the folks at St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church.
They said their first impression of Canada was good as people from the parish traveled hours to pick them up in Edmonton and everyone was all smiles upon meeting at the airport.
The smiles at the end of the journey were welcome, as the trip saw a few delays which kept the Bittars in a number of airports longer than expected.
They flew from Beirut, Lebanon to Amman, Jordan where they had a 13 hour wait before flying to Toronto — a flight that took 13 hours.
After filling out applications in Toronto, they spent the night in Ontario’s capital, flew to Edmonton, then made the three hour drive to the Border City where they could finally plant their feet.
The Bittars have wasted little time since arriving in Lloydminster, beginning almost immediately with paperwork, something Adel said they have no shortage of to fill out.
His two children, Sama and Naim, were also attending school by the third day of being in Canada.
“They wanted to go the next day (after arriving) but because we have this time change, we cannot sleep in the evening then go the next day.”
“Just wait a little bit,” he told his children. “Just two days.”
His wife Rana said the children were enthusiastic because the school they attended in Lebanon wasn’t the type of school they dreamed of.
“They knew that in Canada they would have very nice schools so they were very eager to go,” she said, adding that maybe next year they won’t be as eager after the novelty wears off. 
Now in Lloydminster, the Bittars have been set up with a half-duplex, the rent and furnishings of which have been donated to the parish to help ease their transition.
Since escaping Syria they spent the first part of their limbo period in a Lebanese ministry, a common place for refugees to stay, then moved into a house that Adel said was “bad but affordable”.
Last year they had some help from a relative that saw them move into a better place but the Bittars said their new home in town is much better with more privacy.
“So far we’re treated very well; we’re spoiled too much,” Adel said humorously.
“(But) we know that it’s not the real life ­— we will face some problems later but so far, so good.”

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