Aleppo mother living in B.C. grateful family is safe
Published Sunday, December 18, 2016 4:40PM PST
Last Updated Sunday, December 18, 2016 6:37PM PST
Christmas came early for a Syrian refugee living in Coquitlam, B.C. when she learned the last of her family has escaped war-torn Aleppo.
A year ago, single mother Betul Nebhen could never have imagined she would be playing with her children in Metro Vancouver snow.
“My kids so enjoy the snow, this is their first time to make a snowman here,” she told CTV News.
Nebhen was widowed when her two children were just babies, and she watched war break out in her home city of Aleppo nearly six years ago.
She says she was constantly fearful for her now nine-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son. She chose not to send her kids to school, fearful they would not come back alive.
“It was so sad, no electricity and no water,” she said. “Every second moment bombing, and all the time smoke coming from the fire.”
After fleeing to Turkey this past January, the family of three settled in Coquitlam as government sponsored refugees.
This past week, she held her breath as the last of her family members joined the thousands of civilians in Aleppo’s mass evacuations.
“It was so scary there, they don’t have anything, they just stay in the street. There’s no food,” Nebhen said, noting she just learned her uncle and cousin have escaped to Turkey.
She wants her family to experience the same warm welcome that she’s had in Canada - but knows she may never see them again.
“They wish to come here to me, because they can’t now come back to Aleppo… I’m so worried about this.”
Nebhen is also worried about Aleppo, a city she grew up in now reduced to rubble.
“I feel so bad, my heart is broken,” she said.
Sad but grateful, Nebhen is embracing their first Canadian Christmas. Her children’s safety, she says, is the greatest gift of all.
“I am so happy here,” said Nebhen. “Here [my children] have a future, and if I stay in Aleppo or Turkey they don’t have anything.”
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Shannon Paterson