Warm welcome for Middleton’s Iraqi refugee family

Community members at airport to greet Al Mananis after long journey

Heather Killen hkillen@annapolisspectator.ca
Published on January 27, 2016

Bushra Al Manani receives a warm hug from a member of the welcoming Middleton and Area Refugee Sponsorship committee. The Al Manani family of Iraq, arrived in their new country and community Monday.

©Heather Killen

MIDDLETON - Christmas has finally arrived for Middleton’s refugee family and its sponsors. About 20 members of the Middleton and Area Refugee Sponsorship committee were at the airport Jan. 25, anxiously waiting for the Al Manani family to arrive in their new country.

Rev. Dan Smith and Pastor Sweis Ubels and members of the Middleton Baptist Church and the Emmanuel Congregational Christian Church were among those ready to welcome their family.

Basim and Bushra and two their sons, Osamaha, 16, and Rowaid, 11, were exhausted but happy after their long flight from the Middle East.

“Three airports,” said Basim Al Manani. “Egypt, Toronto, and Halifax.”

While the Middleton group has been fortunate to find two translators living in town, Basim can already speak some English and is happy to practice English when he’s able.


From Iraq

Until recently the family, originally from Iraq, had been stranded in Lebanon with no travel arrangements. Jill Cox, a member of the sponsorship committee, said the situation was especially troubling because Basim’s passport was being held by officials and without these papers, he couldn’t work.

The Al Manani family had been one of about 20 refugee families stuck in an administrative snag late last year. Their paperwork had been submitted at roughly the same time, but was stuck in a backlog.

Since December the family’s new home in Middleton had been freshly painted and furnished, the committee members anxiously waiting for news of their family’s arrival time.

Cox said earlier this month members of the sponsorship group approached West Nova MP Colin Fraser about the problem and soon after were given the news they had waited so long to hear.

Rowaid, 11, holds up a pair of pajamas he was given for Christmas as his father, Basim, looks on.
Heather Killen

Hugs And Smiles

Around 3:20 p.m. Monday the family stepped through the arrival doors at the airport and after a short introduction, were greeted with hugs and smiles. Winter coats were shyly passed around and zipped up, as the group prepared for the final leg of the journey to their new home.

Other volunteers were back at the house in Middleton, getting supper ready for the family when the weary travellers walked in the door around 6:30 p.m. The family walked in the door to find a homey place where the Christmas tree was still decorated, presents wrapped and waiting under the tree.

“It’s beautiful,” said Basim Al Manani, when he was asked what he thought of his new home.

After dinner Rowaid was so sleepy he was asking to go to bed, but managed to find a burst of enthusiasm when he began unwrapping his gifts. Each member of the family was outfitted with boots, gloves, hats, and scarves.

A few fun items got some big smiles -- daring red nail polish for Bushra, a set of ballpoint pens in Rowaid’s backpack, and a set of lava-lamp style speakers for Osamaha.

While there was joy in arriving here, one of the first things they did after supper was to contact the family members they left behind. Basim and Bushra’s two oldest children, married daughters, are still in the Middle East.

Middleton residents were at the airport to welcome the family.

©Heather Killen