Noureddin Zin’s journey in Canada has been a struggle, but he’s determined to make a difference.
Since the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011, more than 12 million people have been displaced and over half are scattered around the globe. As part of its world humanitarian efforts, the Canadian government, in November 2015, pledged to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees which it accomplished within a span of three months. Noureddin Zin was one of the lucky ones.
“I was among the first to arrive in Toronto in December 2015 on one of the very first flights,” says the 50-year-old.
The future belongs to our children. It’s all about the children and I am so grateful to this country for giving us this opportunity. I am so happy we are here.”
“I was so happy when we finally made it here.” His journey to Canada was a long one, first fleeing Syria into Turkey, where he and his family lived for four years.
As a convention refugee, Noureddin was sponsored by several families. “Our sponsors opened their hearts to us. They welcomed us like family and rented us an apartment. They would visit us every day, showering us with gifts and food. All 17 of them became our friends,” Noureddin says.
“They are most kind and gracious. They would often take us to visit various tourist attractions across the region, including Niagara Falls. They made me feel very comfortable and secure.”
Although Noureddin has felt very welcome, his journey in Canada has not been an easy one. Being the breadwinner of the family, he is obliged to earn a decent living in order to take care of his wife and four kids. Yet, he has hopped from one job to the next struggling to make ends meet.
Back in Syria, he managed a chicken farm with some 20,000 hens. But he realizes he won’t be able to open a farm in Toronto. It’s a big investment that he can’t afford, not to mention it’s outside his geographical comfort. “I feel it’s hard to move now that I have settled in the city,” he says.
His lack of English didn’t help his prospects and he has juggled between working part-time at No Frills and as an Uber driver. But that was before COVID-19 would leave him jobless.
“Thanks to the Mennonite New Life Centre, they have helped me over the past year with various services by filling out and translating documents, such as to register my newborn son. I also enrolled in the language program, LINC, and that helped me improve my English. I now feel more confident in pursuing work.”
In the end, Noureddin is relieved to leave behind the years of suffering he has endured. “The future belongs to our children. It’s all about the children and I am so grateful to this country for giving us this opportunity. Education is key to success. I am so happy we are here.”