Members of Gracepoint Community Church’s Refugee Family Team welcome the Al-Gburi family in the arrivals area at Vancouver Airport Tuesday.

Members of Gracepoint Community Church’s Refugee Family Team welcome the Al-Gburi family in the arrivals area at Vancouver Airport Tuesday.

A journey from persecution to peace

Refugee family welcomed by South Surrey congregation.

A family of refugees from Syria is settling into a rental home in White Rock’s east end  this week, following months of preparations by their sponsors, Gracepoint Community Church.

Yaseen Al-Gburi, 41, his wife Hana Alizzi, and their three daughters and three sons (all aged between six and 13) arrived at Vancouver Airport just before noon Tuesday, where they were greeted by more than 30 of the congregation plus two other recently arrived Syrian refugees and an Arabic-speaking pastor who acted as translators.

Following initial discussions last September, Gracepoint raised $35,000 to sponsor the family, which had fled persecution and violence in their native Iraq and later in Syria.

“For the last two years they have been waiting in Syria, struggling to survive and hoping to start life in another nation,” Gracepoint pastor Steve Bains told Peace Arch News, adding that the family had been interviewed several times by UN representatives and Canadian authorities before being granted refugee status.

Bains said the church’s Refugee Family Team – formed after enthusiastic response of the congregation to the sponsorship proposal – had been busy before the Al-Gburi family arrived, on a host of details.

With the advice of the Mennonite Central Committee, a recognized sponsor agreement holder, they located housing, a family doctor and schooling for the children.

Bains said that when the rental house was found to be in need of repair, “church members, young and old, worked together to upgrade the home.”

White Rock Elementary has space for five of the children who are of school age, Bains said, and Al-Gburi, a hair stylist by trade, has already been offered a job in the area.

“Suffice it to say, the pieces are falling into place,” he said.