Cole Harbour Cares AGM Refugee Report 2021

In January 2020, Cole Harbour Cares met to discuss sponsoring another refugee family. Our commitment to the AlAsadis was ending in May 2020.

After much discussion, we realized that our friend, Khaled Mojarkish (owner of Station 1 restaurant) had worked with sponsorship groups over the years to help over 20 Syrians come to Nova Scotia but not once had he asked for help for his family.  We thought it was time we helped Khaled by sponsoring his niece and her husband and daughter, and also two young nephews.

In February 2020, CHC spoke at Cole Harbour Woodside United Church and Church of St. Andrews Anglican Church encouraging members of the congregations to pledge support for Cole Harbour Cares.

In March, the world changed with the news of a pandemic called Covid.

More tragedy struck our shores as we navigated through the year. Our dear friend and great supporter, Kathy Warren, died as did Khaled Mojarkish’s 2 year old daughter, Lotus.  Israa AlAsadi, Ziad’s wife, lost her father in Syria due to Covid.

Through it all, CHC realized we could succumb to the tragedies or draw strength from them and carry on. We chose the latter and continued to organize on-line fundraisers. We were fortunate to be asked to speak at Iona Presbyterian church. CBC Mainstreet interviewed Khaled and CHC on their afternoon show.

CHC needs to raise $49,000 to sponsor the 5 members of Khaled’s family. Our bank balance is at $28,500. Even though 2020 has been the most challenging of years, with your help CHC will continue to fund raise till we reach our goal.

None of this would be possible without our wonderful supporters and we thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. Our five Syrian refugees, presently living in Lebanon, dream every day of coming to Canada and we will try our best to make their dream come true.

A Note From Anne

When Jim and I left Cole Harbour on Feb 27th to go to Florida and our car broke down 1 hour into our journey, we had to return to Halifax and our two month trip was delayed a whole day. At the time, we thought that was the worst thing that could happen to us. Little did we know what was in store for not only us, but everybody.

From the disbelief of COVID-19 to the tragic death of our good friend and great CHC supporter, Kathy Warren, and then to the horrific details of the last weekend it is hard to see any relief from the overwhelming grief that has overcome us.

I thought I would reach out to our Muslim friends and send them our thoughts and prayers during Ramadan. Yesterday I received a text from Israa and I thought I should share it with you.

Hi Anne, It’s been a year and we’re here. It has been the most beautiful year for me, and I am so happy that I got to know you and know people like you. I wish you all your life full of happiness and joy.

Ziad wrote:

All of us miss seeing everybody.

Even though we feel that the world has gone mad, it is the texts from the people that Cole Harbour Cares has helped that keeps us moving forward.

At the present time, Cole Harbour Cares may not be meeting but donations are still coming in from the pledges. There are half a dozen churches that still want to hear our story when the pandemic restrictions ease. We will get through this and we will continue to fund raise when the time is right.

In the meantime, hold the people in your “bubble” a little tighter

Till we meet again,


Khaled’s Story

Update from Cole Harbour Cares

In 2007, years before civil war erupted in their homeland of Syria, Khaled and his wife, Nour, emigrated to Nova Scotia. Young, ambitious and hard working, they soon became part of our community. Nour worked as a medical lab technologist at the QEII hospital in Halifax while Khaled learned the restaurant business. 

By 2013, Khaled had bought Station 1, a restaurant in Dartmouth. Nour was now the working mother of two. Tragically, the Syrian civil war had begun. Many of Khaled’s friends and former co-workers, now Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, reached out to him pleading for help. Khaled and Nour approached the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) to ask if there was a refugee sponsorship group working in the Dartmouth area to help Nour’s family relocate to Nova Scotia.

Fortunately, Cole Harbour Cares (CHC), our refugee sponsorship group, with members from the congregations of Cole Harbour Woodside United Church, St. Andrews Anglican Church, Woodlawn United Church, along with community members from Dartmouth, was registered with ISANS. When CHC contacted Khaled to help sponsor his wife’s family, Khaled and Nour, with the help of friends at the lab dept of QEII hospital, had already sponsored Nour’s family from Turkey. However, Khaled told us he had a former co-worker, with a family of five, who were refugees living in Jordan, waiting for sponsors. CHC gladly sponsored this family, who years later still live, go to school and work in our area.

When this year long sponsorship was up, CHC prepared to disband but Khaled had another request. A friend, whose home and restaurant was destroyed in Syria, was now a refugee with a young family, living in Lebanon. Would we help them? CHC revitalized the group and agreed to sponsor this second family. With Khaled’s encouragement, and the dedication of CHC, this family of five is now thriving in Dartmouth. It is wonderful both of CHC’s families have stayed in Nova Scotia, learned English, and successfully found jobs.

Khaled didn’t stop there. During the years CHC was working with these two families, he approached other sponsorship groups to help more Syrians begin new lives in the safety and care of generous Nova Scotians. He, himself, also formed a group of 5 to sponsor Syrian friends. In the last few years, Khaled has selflessly helped more than 20 Syrian refugees settle in Nova Scotia. They have stayed and prospered, found jobs and put down roots in our communities. 

CHC has decided we would like to sponsor one more family. Khaled’s. Because of all the work and years of dedication Khaled has given to other refugees, we want to sponsor members of Khaled’s Syrian family. We need your help.

CHC cannot do this alone. We are asking other sponsorship groups, other churches and community members, to join us in making this dream come true. Khaled has done so much for Nova Scotia in helping sponsor groups bring Syrians here. Please join us in our efforts for his family. 

There are five members of Khaled’s family we wish to sponsor: two nephews who are 22 and 27 years old and his 31-year-old niece, her husband and child. The fundraising requirement to sponsor Khaled’s family is $16,000 for each single male and $23,000 for the young family.

Working together we can help provide these young family members with a bright future in the warmth and safety of Nova Scotia.

Update on Al Asadi family

Cole Harbour Cares received word in April that the family of Ziad, Israa, Jana, Mona and Mahmoud had cleared all their interviews and security checks and were scheduled to arrive in Halifax on May 17th 2019.

First order of business was to find a 3 bedroom apartment which proved to be almost impossible. There is a terrible shortage of suitable apartments in Halifax/Dartmouth area and we were very fortunate to hear of one becoming available on  Portland Street in Dartmouth on May 1st. Thanks to the generosity of many people, we were able to fully furnish the apartment prior to the family’s arrival.

It was a stressful time leading up to May 17th because we were not sure if the Lebanese authorities would allow the family to leave but when we heard they were on an Air Canada flight from Istanbul to Toronto we started to celebrate.

There were 20 Cole Harbour Cares members and 7 or 8 children waiting for the family to arrive. Words cannot describe what a joyful feeling it was to see them come through to the arrivals lounge at Halifax airport. Their smiles said everything.

They are starting to settle in. They understand most of what we say and they are very keen to learn English. They now have a bank account and Nova Scotia documentation. Jana and Mona are ready to start attending Hawthorne school at the end of May. Ziad and Israa will be going for English testing at ISANS and will be assigned an appropriate English level in the near future.

Ziad is eager to start working at Station 1 restaurant in Tacoma. Please pop in and see him. He loves to meet all his new Canadian friends.

Cole Harbour Cares members are visiting the family regularly to help them learn conversational English.

Thank you to all our many supporters. We know you kept the family in your hearts and prayers. They are so grateful for another chance at life and so happy to finally be living in Canada

Update from Cole Harbour Cares

It has been some time since the last post from Cole Harbour Cares. We would like to keep you up-to-date with the status of the next refugee family the group is sponsoring. And an update about the Kilani family whom are now settled into life in Dartmouth.

The Al-Asadi family are still living in Lebanon. Due to their perilous situation, Cole Harbour Cares has been sending the family money periodically to survive. Because Ziad is a refugee, he is unable to work and is constantly worried about being picked up by the authorities and sent back to Syria. Every man under the age of 50 is being conscripted into the Syrian army so Ziad spends most of his time in his home. His two daughters have started attending school. Jana, the older daughter has been kept back a grade due to lack of schooling over the last two years but Mona, the younger daughter is in the correct grade. The wait time for sponsored refugees from Lebanon is now an average of 22 months which means that if the family passes all their screening interviews they will hopefully arrive in the fall of 2019.  Thankfully, the cook position at a local Middle Eastern restaurant, Station 1, is still being held for him.

Our first Syrian family, the Kilanis, continue to thrive in Dartmouth. Mohamed has a full time job with Sunsel technologies and the three children are doing well in school. Fares, who is almost 16 years old, has started a part time job and has been chosen to play soccer for his school team. Tala and Taim are doing well in elementary school and Taghreed, the mother, is attending English classes and has learnt to drive.

Working hard to welcome our next refugee family

Cole Harbour Cares is preparing to sponsor a second Syrian family. The Alasadi family is made up of Father, Ziad Alasadi (38), Mother, Israa (28), daughters Jana (9), Mona (5), and a seven month old baby boy. The Alasadi family is currently living illegally in Lebanon, sharing a three bedroom house with three other families. Since they are illegally living in Lebanon, Ziad is not allowed to work and the children are not allowed to attend school.
The Canadian Government has approved their application and the family is waiting to be called to Beirut for medical and security interviews. Once they pass the interviews they will be given plane tickets to come to Canada. If everything goes as planned and based on our previous experience we expect the Alasadi family to arrive in Halifax around February or March 2018.

To help get us started with preparations we are putting the call out for gently used household items. To avoid paying for storage we request you to hold onto the items until we finalize an apartment for the family. A list of the required items is posted online and can be viewed using this spreadsheet.

The call to donate is going out to members of the four churches that are participating in this sponsorship and as people commit to donating an item, the online list will be updated. If you have any items that you can donate, please email Karen Watts or Jeanne Manning Stright.
Thank you for your support!

The Kilani Family are here!

After many months of preparation and with the generosity of the congregations at Cole Harbour Woodside United and the Anglican Church of St. Andrew in Cole Harbour, Cole Harbour Cares welcomed the Kilani family to Nova Scotia on July 21, 2016. Mohamad, Taghreed and their three children, Fares, 14, Tala,10 and Taim, 5, are now settled in a three bedroom apartment near Southdale North Woodside School in central Dartmouth.

Our volunteers have helped with lease-signing, apartment set-up, translating, utility hook-ups, new winter clothing, school supplies and much more. We’ve assisted with school registration, transportation, appointments for vision, dental and medical care and visits to the Mosque.

The Kilanis have busy lives. As well as attending school, the children are involved in soccer, violin and swim programs. Taim is enrolled in the daycare program at the language training school where Mohomad and Taghreed are taking English lessons. Mohamad is eager to find employment in the field of electronics and small appliance repair.

Through the continuing generosity of members of Cole Harbour Woodside United Church, we’ve also been able to pay off the travel loan the Government of Canada requires refugees to pay: the cost of their airline tickets to Canada and medical examinations before they were clear to come to Canada – almost $6700.

Sponsoring the Kilanis has been a huge gift for us all as our volunteers have forged deep friendships with this wonderful family that will last long after our official sponsorship ends in July 2017.