Syrian refugee family names baby Justin as gesture of thanks

Grateful to PM and all Canadians for help

The Doso family’s gratitude to Canada is embodied in the cutest package ever.

Seven-day-old Justin Doso’s name is a thank-you gesture from the Syrian refugee family-of-six to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and all Canadians.

Ahmed Doso, his wife and three sons, lived in a refugee camp in Turkey for a year after fleeing Syria and its civil war. When he submitted his refugee application he had only one destination in mind — Canada.

Justin Trudeau and the country of freedom he leads were big reasons why.

“They saw how he feels about Syria,” says Suaad Al-Aghbari, who is with Red Deer’s Catholic Social Services and translated Ahmed’s Arabic in an interview in their West Park home on Wednesday.

“I saw him as very different than all of the other prime ministers. He said he was going to bring 25,000 Syrians to Canada.”

Ahmed was also impressed that Trudeau met arriving Syrians at the airport and sat down with them for a meal dressed in traditional clothing on another occasion.

“It’s more than like,” he said of his feelings for our prime minister. “I admire him. That’s why I named my son Justin.”

It was a difficult journey reaching Canada. A restaurateur, who owned two restaurants in Damascus, Ahmed had to leave all behind for the sake of his wife, Zehra Elmuhammed, and their children, son Muhammed, 10; twin six-year-old boys, Raddat and Musan; and five-year-old son Sultan.

They regularly heard the blasts of bombs and artillery. Schools had closed and the “kids were always crying,” he said.

In Turkey, they lived in a tent and the camp was so dangerous that Ahmed ventured out alone to get supplies, leaving his wife and children behind for their safety.

After being accepted by Canada as refugees, the family flew to Montreal and a day later were in their new home, Red Deer.

Canada has lived up to their expectations.

“I would like to thank all of the people of Red Deer and how they have helped us,” he says. “We don’t feel we’re strangers. We feel like this is our country.

“We don’t feel different. Most people in Red Deer, as soon as they heard there was a new Syrian family they just helped us with everything they could.

“People are very helpful, smiling faces everywhere. They are so polite to the kids.”

The boys go to school at West Park Elementary School and all are learning English. The boys like their teachers, sports and their new friends.

Ahmed said he hopes to open a restaurant in Red Deer and looks forward to a future where his sons have a good education.

He wants to offer special thanks to Catholic Social Services and its staff, who have helped the family so much, and were by Zehra’s side throughout her pregnancy.

Since December, 31 Syrian refugees families, 168 people in all, have been settled in Red Deer.

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