Syrian father of 6 speaks of year of successes and struggles

Syrian father of 6 speaks of year of successes and struggles

A Syrian father who spoke of his struggles to raise his family of eight in Halifax a year ago says major challenges remain, but he's not under the same financial stresses thanks to a new home and a better sense of how to budget in his new country.

Last year, Waleed Alghdayan said after living expenses there was only about $100 a month left for groceries, clothing and other expenses for his six children, now aged 2 to 12.

But on March 15 the entire family moved into public housing, dropping their rent from $1,100 a month to about $309.

Alghdayan said he's also become better at spending wisely, being more mindful and having a better sense of Canadian currency even with the extra expense of a car since then.

Ups and downs

It's been a necessity, because he feels his English isn't competent enough yet to look for work. The one-time construction worker said he's at Level 4, able to understand but he finds it difficult to respond (he spoke to CBC News through an interpreter).

There have been successes in the meantime — both he and his wife, Amnah, earned their driver's licences, the kids are doing well in school (and picking up English with more ease than Alghdayan) and they've formed a strong bond with Nova Scotian Cheryl Oake.

The low point was a visit from the cops because their family was too noisy in their old house, according to the next-door neighbour.

"We had too many children ... for our neighbours, and the house was very empty so it echoed a lot, so we were too loud for him," Alghdayan said. "He called the police once and there was a problem of that kind until we learned how life is run in this country," he said, adding that the children have learned to be quieter by watching the people around them.

"They become just like Canadians now."