Mamdouh, his wife Suad, and their four kids, Tabrk, Ali, Asll and Yossef, fled from Baghdad, Iraq, thirteen years ago. The family was forced to live in a Syrian refugee camp for six years, before the violence broke out in 2011.
Mamdouh and Suad with three hundred other refugees lacked health care and froze sometimes in the winter. They lost their one week old baby due to the conditions. Mamdouh knew if he wanted to keep his family healthy he needed to do something. So he applied to leave the refugee camp to move to a safer place.
In 2001, a group of Canadian Mennonites invited the family to Canada. When they arrived, the Mennonites picked the family up from the airport, provided a house for them, and helped him find a job at a supermarket.
Mamdouh lost his job though after one year due to the store shutting down permanently. The loss didn’t deter him from following his passions and dreams. When someone asked to partner and start a business with him, he took the opportunity and bought his old workplace. His twenty five years of work experience as a baker and cook brought success. He painted the restaurant purple and furnished it with white couches to lounge on and black tables and chairs to eat Baklava and Falafels from.
“Mamdouh is a good and friendly man. He worked so hard. The best part…is that he had local support. We come every other week, fill a few cars and eat here to support him,” his close friend and mentor said.
Living in Canada means a lot to Mamdouh. For the first time in his life, he has an ID card which means he can apply for jobs, bank accounts and health cards. He has freedom to go places and to create a safe environment for his family.
“Canada is my country now, my home, my life. This country gave a future to my family. Now we are safe! My kids go to school, and are happy,” Mamdouh exclaimed.
The family were blessed to have people who wanted to make a difference, to take action, and to step out.