32-year-old Ahmad Lalou knows the importance of living in a welcoming community.
“When I’m at the grocery store, people smile at me. I don’t feel alone. I feel like we belong here.”
Having made the journey from Syria with his young family, Ahmad remembers meeting Salwa Mirgani, his Transition Settlement Worker from the New Canadians Centre, for the first time. Salwa was waiting at Fleming College’s Severn Court to greet him when he and his family arrived from Pearson Airport. “I was asking myself all of those questions: Where are we going? Where will we live? What is going to happen to us?” says Ahmad who recently completed the Industrial Electrician course at Humber College.
“I looked out and there was Salwa. She was waving to us and smiling. She told us she was here to help. Suddenly, I felt like it was going to be okay. We weren’t alone. We were welcome.”
Currently enrolled in the English as a Second Language Bridge Program at Fleming College, Ahmad started working towards the goal of becoming an Industrial Electrician when he was in high school in Syria – before the war broke out.
While Ahmad says there are so many people who have supported and encouraged him – his volunteer support network, the staff at the New Canadians Centre, he says it’s the people of Peterborough who have made the biggest difference in his life. “When I’m at the grocery store, people smile at me. I’ve lived in Toronto while I was going to school. I know the difference of living in a city where people care about what happens to you. I don’t feel alone. I feel like we belong here.”