June 20, 2017

Ahmad Al-Helwani will soon embark on a four-day trip to Ottawa for the ultimate Canadian experience!

The 12-year old Syrian refugee and his family – his mother, father, sister and brother – left Damascus in 2014 to escape the war. They spent two years in Cairo, Egypt before being selected to come to Canada when the federal government eased immigration quotas to admit more Syrian refugees.

Since arriving in the country a year ago, Ahmad has been making the most of his new home, and he credits the YMCA of Greater Halifax/Dartmouth in large measure for his success in adapting to his new country.

“When I first came to Canada in 2016, I didn’t speak any English,” he said. “My dad looked into places that would help us and he found the YMCA. The YMCA has taught me everything, and if I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t have so many friends or be able to speak English well.”

Ahmad, his older sister and younger brother have all participated in the Y’s Youth Outreach Homework Club, Saturday Study Skills sessions, School Settlement support, and English support services.

According to Fadi Hamdan, manager of the Youth Outreach program, the services the YMCA has been able to offer to Ahmad and his family have been integral in helping them to settle in their new home in Halifax.

“We provide social and recreational activities, and volunteer opportunities with community events. We expose them t