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Syrian refugees touch down in Cambell River

Campbell River’s first Syrian refugees arrived safely Tuesday night after travelling nearly 24 hours from Lebanon in their bid to start a new life.

Merell Awad’s mother, sister, and her sister’s husband and two teenaged sons landed in Campbell River Tuesday evening after making a pit stop in Vancouver earlier that same day.

“We are all very thankful that five members of our family have (arrived) safely tonight in Campbell River,” reads a post on the Campbell River Syrian Refugee Support Committee’s Facebook page. “Their long journey ended at the Campbell River Airport where they were welcomed by cheering, flag (Canada and Syrian) waving, sign holding, smiling and happy-crying committee members and other Campbell Riverites.”

It’s been two and half years since Awad first tried to get her family out of war-torn Syria.

She’s still waiting on other family members – another sister and her two daughters as well as the parents of her husband Fouad’s nephew – who are in Syria waiting to have their applications to Canada approved.

But for now, Awad is helping the five who arrived earlier this week settle in.

Her mother, who has one leg and survived open heart surgery, will be living with Awad and her husband while her sister and her family are staying in a home rented out through donations collected by the Syrian Refugee Support Committee.

The group, made up of about 25 individuals and formed through St. Peter’s Anglican Church which is a sponsorship agreement holder, has raised nearly $90,000 through various fundraisers.

The community has also pitched in to provide supplies for around the home, furnishing, clothing and other basic necessities.

The committee’s work is not done, however. On Saturday the group is hosting a fundraising garage sale with proceeds going to help Campbell River’s newest residents with their living expenses.

The garage sale takes place this Saturday from 8;30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Peter’s Anglican Church (228 S. Dogwood St.).