Nova Scotia Syrian Society: helping former refugees with loans for business start-ups, education, and family emergencies.
The Al Rifai family landed in Halifax after a year-long challenge with 2 children in tow, fleeing their native Syria on foot to find safety in Jordan, and ultimately being welcomed to Canada in November 2016 with the help of a group of Nova Scotians working hard to get them to Canadian soil.
This marked a new beginning and meant safety and opportunity for the Al Rifai's, but with that also came much loss.
Imagine your credentials as a doctor suddenly does not qualify to practice in Canada, your family and friends are still in danger in Syria, your home abandoned, you are suddenly on a fixed income living below the poverty line, and your native language is no longer the norm for employment.
Despite all this, the Al Rifai's have joined together with other Syrian families in their community and created a society that takes care of :
1 - EMERGENCIES: Providing emergency interest-free loans for families when needed (Eg; urgent medical/dental work, family tragedy)
2 - EDUCATION AND ASSIMILATION: Educating over 100 children in English, Arabic and computers every weekend (with a vision to pair Canadian and Syrian-born students to teach each other about language and culture)
3 - ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Providing micro-loans for members who want to launch a business or host a profitable cultural event.
This group, the Nova Scotia Syrian Society, is already having tremendous impact ranging from covering a grieving family's funeral costs for an unexpected death, to starting a weekend school that has grown to 2 days a week for 120+ students and outgrown their community space. The society has grown to over 300 Syrian new Canadians, but the funds are very difficult to grow as most new families have absolutely no disposable income. Since most of the funds are lent out as interest-free loans, it provides a launch platform for families to create opportunities for themselves.
The NSSS is a registered not-for-profit with an elected board of directors and voting system in place for how to make decisions on funding. This strong and fair process is in place to disburse the funds where they are most needed and to properly account for every dollar. We have a small group of Canadian volunteers helping raise the funds and provide expertise in accounting for the NSSS as well.
There is an urgent need to help our newest Canadians here. Let's welcome this group with open arms and show that Nova Scotia is a warm, welcoming, supportive place for newcomers to call home.