Seven Months Later: An Interview with a Syrian Refugee Family Relocated to Miramichi

Waffa-Harmoudi-Marwan-MuradBy Anthony McLean

Imagine having to flee your country due to unforeseen circumstances and not knowing what lies ahead for your future. That is what happened to one Syrian Refugee family who have been relocated to Miramichi, sponsored by the United Church of Canada (UCC) Miramichi Presbytery Syrian Initiative. Marwan and Waffa, along with their children, two year old Hamoudi and three year old Murad hail from Manbij, Aleppo Province, Syria. With the help of translator and committee member, Wayne Mullin, we recently sat down to find out how the family is doing.

Q: How long have you been on the Miramichi?
A: We arrived in Toronto, Ontario on Thursday, February 11th, 2016, arriving in Miramichi on Friday, February 12th, 2016.

Q: How are you adjusting to life here?
A: We are adjusting very well with the assistance of the UCC Miramichi Presbytery Syrian Initiative. We have learned to do our own banking, errands to the supermarket, and take our children three days a week to daycare. We are taking second language English training at the Miramichi Multicultural Association, enjoy visiting other families and people, and taking in events and activities especially fishing, swimming and attending Canada Day celebrations.

Q: Where were you originally from?
A: Manbij, Aleppo Province, Syria. We (Marwan and Waffa) grew up in the same community, about six to eight blocks apart from each other. Marwan has four brothers and four sisters, and Waffa has six brothers and five sisters.

Q: What are some of the biggest changes in your life?
A: A big change in our food and diet, a new house, adapting to different climate (especially the winter), meeting new people, customs, ways and means of life and learning the English language, as our main language is Arabic.

Q: Has coming to Miramichi/ Canada made a difference?
A: Yes, feeling very safe away from war. We had very poor living conditions for a year and a half where we lived previously, with no running water and a leaking roof. Now we are feeling very secure in Miramichi.

Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: To finish our English as a second language training, which will be in February 2017. Marwan would like to become employable and Waffa would like to learn how to drive, go back to school and become employable as well. She (Waffa) has a High School Education.

Q: What is your day to day routine?
A: Monday is a free day to us. From Tuesday to Thursday Hamoudi and Murad, our children, attend daycare, and we (Marwan and Waffa) take our English language training from 9 am to 3 pm, as well as tutoring classes. Then we come home and make supper and do personal care. Sometimes Wayne or other committee members take Marwan out for a drive. We enjoy having our new friends visit.

Hamoudi-MarwanQ: How are the children doing?
A: They attend daycare and made some friends at the daycare and in the community. They love meeting new people and playing with kids their age.

Q: Are there any activities you like attending or helping out around the community?
A: We like going to special events. We love visiting people and people visiting us. Marwan loves spending time with the UCC Miramichi Presbytery Syrian Initiative group, watching football and soccer on television and fishing and attending church on Friday. Waffa loves shopping and studying hard to learn the English language.

Q: What is the best part of moving to Miramichi?
A: We love the summer time, the Miramichi River, leaves changing colours, swimming, and BBQs, plus the UCC Miramichi Presbytery Syrian Initiative group, Dixie Lee, going to Atlantic Superstore or the Walmart to get our groceries, and like the support we’ve received.

Q: Do you have anything else to add?
A: All of us are missing Syria as we are worried about family over there, as well as in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. It is a constant worry and a real danger. Bombs are dropping at anytime. Many family members are still in Syria. Waffa’s mother is trying to escape to Turkey. However, we are all excited. A new baby girl will arrive in late October.

Thank you Wayne, Marwan, Waffa, Hamoudi and Murad who made this interview opportunity possible. For more information join the UCC Miramichi Presbytery Syrian Initiative Facebook group at

anthony-bio-picUpdate: Congratulations to Waffa, Murad, Harmoudi and Marwan on the birth of a new baby girl and sister, Alisar on Wednesday evening, October 19th, 2016 at the Miramichi Regional Hospital, A healthy 7 pound baby!

Anthony W.J. McLean is a Contributing Reporter for Giv’er Miramichi and in his spare time he enjoys digital photography, writing and travelling. He has lived in Miramichi and Saint John, but is proud to call Miramichi home.

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