Ontario couple tries to finish preparations hours before Syrian family arrives

Hours before a family of Syrian refugees was set to land in Ontario, the retired couple who helped sponsor them was scrambling Monday to wrap up preparations for their arrival.

TORONTO — Hours before a family of Syrian refugees was set to land in Ontario, the retired couple who helped sponsor them was scrambling Monday to wrap up preparations for their arrival.

Brian and Philomena Logel learned two weeks ago that the Alhajali family — Emad, his wife Razan, their daughter, Fatma, and son Mohammad — would be arriving this month, leaving them little time to finalize arrangements.

The couple managed to find the family a townhouse in Orangeville, Ont., about an hour northwest of Toronto, and were rushing to drop off first and last month’s rent before heading to the airport, Brian Logel said.

He said the Alhajalis will still live with them at their farmhouse on the outskirts of town for about a week until the new home is ready.

And the family will be coming over for Christmas dinner, even though it’s not a holiday they celebrate, he said.

While Brian Logel ran errands, his wife was at home cooking in case the Alhajalis are hungry when they arrive. The pair had previously said they found a halal butcher in town.

Others in the community have promised to drop off meals over the next week so that Philomena Logel isn’t shouldering the burden alone, he said.

“We’re so nervous, we’re so excited, I can’t believe it, how keyed up we are,” he said.

The Logels are part of a group co-sponsoring the Alhajalis with their local United Church.

They are working through the Anglican United Refugee Alliance, one of several organizations that have deals with the federal government to allow them to sponsor refugees from lists provided by the United Nations.

The Alhajalis are expected to arrive from Jordan on a commercial flight, rather than the government airlifts that began last Thursday as part of the Liberals’ pledge to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February.

Emad and Razan Alhajali, both 28, have said they wanted to come to Canada specifically because they felt it was too dangerous for Muslims in the U.S., and Europe was turning people away. The couple is expecting their third child.

A trained nurse and midwife, Razan Alhajali has said she hopes her credentials can be recognized in her new country. Her husband has said he struggled to find work in Irbid, the northern Jordanian city where they have lived since fleeing their war-torn homeland.

Emad Alhajali’s cousin, Awad, and his family also found sponsors in Orangeville, but their application is in the early stages.

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