Refugees making a home in Lloyd

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April 21, 2016 6:00 AM

After just a few months, Lloydminster's first family of Syrian refugees survived its first prairie winter and is settling into life in Lloydminster.

It’s been a little more than three months since Lloydminster’s first family of Syrian refugees landed in town and they say they’ve been adjusting nicely.
“I think it’s a nice place — the community is really a loving community and the people are really friendly,” said Rana Bittar.
“We feel there are a lot of activities; the Facebook pages are really active and you feel the people are really communicating well.”
Her husband, Adel, said everything is going as expected, which is a good thing, and they’ve completed most of the paperwork involved in moving to Canada.
The couple have also been taking online courses to assist with their English and Adel has finally gotten his driver’s licence.
The licence is of extra importance because he has better odds of finding employment now that he’s mobile, something which Rana is also working toward.
Finding work in the current economic environment is still tough, however, and is something Adel jokingly refers to as “mission impossible.”
Coupling the slow job market with the fact that most employers look for Canadian experience, landing a job can seem doubly hard to do.
“Maybe we came at the wrong time because of the bad economy now, but we hope we can manage something,” said Adel.
“Sometimes, to find a job, it’s not so difficult, but to find the proper job can be harder.”
In the meantime, he and Rana have been doing volunteer work for the Prairie North Health Region by delivering meals on wheels and helping with the Strides, an exercise program for people with — or at risk of — chronic health conditions.
Surviving their first Canadian winter was also a milestone for the Bittar family, and even though this year wasn’t as bad as usual,  according to their Canadian friends, they still found the season to be a little bit intense.
“Everybody says we are so lucky we didn’t have it extreme, but for us it’s too much,” said Adel, than with a laugh he added, “You just think everything will end and the spring will come the next day, but instead we repeat again.”
For recreation the Bittars have been taking advantage of the free activities around town, mostly at the Servus Sports Centre and Bud Miller All Seasons Park, and have enjoyed swimming and barbecues in their spare time.
They even went for their first ice skate, something that was met with mixed reviews among the family members.
Both the kids, Sama and Naim, took to the ice like naturals, but the parents were a little more hard pressed to make it work.
“For them it’s easy, for us it’s impossible,” joked Adel.
Rana also joked about her own experience, “We went and I told him I don’t want to try, but he said, don’t worry you are insured — I told him, it’s not about the money.”
The Bittar children, Sama and Naim, have been enjoying their new home as well and have been spending time biking and enjoying the outdoors now that spring has arrived.
The kids attend E’cole St. Thomas Elementary and have been making new friends and having a blast taking part in school activities.
All in all, the Bittars are settling into the community well and are looking forward to finding jobs, which will be the last piece of the puzzle for the new Canadians.

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