Meet the Habib family
Muhammed Habib and his wife Falak Al Idlibi are the father and mother of Lama Habib, who was sponsored along with her husband and children by OCRA in February 2016.
Muhammed and Falak fled Syria in 2014 after their house in Al-Bueda, on the outskirts of Damascus in Syria, was destroyed by heavy bombing.
They fled to Istanbul, Turkey, where their two sons and one of their daughters had arrived earlier, after they themselves lost their homes to bombing in the same area. The journey to Turkey was dangerous and frightening. By 2014, it had become very difficult for civilians to leave Syria and door-to-door searches for weapons by government and militia were numerous and violent. The journey to Turkey from Syria runs through areas of severe conflict.
Muhammed and Falak’s transport to Turkey left them short of the border in a heavily forested area, and it was necessary for them and others who were fleeing to walk the remaining distance. Fighting broke out on the Turkish side of the border when the government forces thought they were combatants, and Muhammed and Falak became separated in the terror amongst those fleeing. Muhammed and Falak survived, found each other, but had to sleep in the forest that night, terrified, while they waited to cross safely into Turkey.
In Istanbul Muhammed and Falak were reunited with their sons and daughter. They had to rely on them for food and shelter as Muhammed could not get any work at his age and neither speak Turkish. The family has been separated again, however, because the sons were lucky enough to be chosen as Government-Assisted Refugees designated for settlement in Canada, where Lama, their daughter, had also been accepted as a refugee with her husband and children. Muhammed and Falak were included in the brothers’ UNHCR file but unfortunately were not identified as GARS by Canada.
This has left Muhammed and Falak to struggle by themselves in Istanbul. They live in very precarious circumstances, have difficulty finding food, and are unable to get help from their daughter and family who are themselves forced to rely on charity for food and shelter. Their family in Canada is very worried about the ability of Muhammed and Falak to survive in these circumstances.
If Muhammed and Falak are able to come to Canada, they will reunite with their sons and their daughter, who are already here. They will be integrated into these well-settled families and will not require assistance beyond that provided in a private sponsorship. Falak will be able to provide childcare and other domestic services to add to the families’ incomes and to support herself and her husband.
This family’s application has now been funded with in-kind and monetary donations. A sponsorship application by OCRA and First United Church Ottawa has been sent to the United Church of Canada.