Syrian grandmother, refugee reunited with family in Lewisporte

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Syrian grandmother, refugee reunited with family in Lewisporte

As soon as she saw her son come through the door of the Gander airport, Talika Morjan, a grandmother, took off running.

For her, this was a moment too long in the making. Almost nine months after she arrived in Newfoundland herself, her family finally joined her to make their new life in Lewisporte.

Morjan last saw her family in June. One day, she left them behind in Lebanon, and sought refuge in Canada.

But on Friday night, her son Mohamd Moufleh, his wife Fatima Ahmed, and children Moussa and Rayane all hugged again.

"He said I know I will be crying," translator Naz Kadham said for Moufleh. "But I was thinking when I will be crying. Within the first hug or the second hug or when we are home."

The last time the family lived together, they were in overcrowded quarters in Lebanon, having fled from violence in Syria.

Morjan told CBC News that she spent years in a one-room dwelling, with a leaking ceiling and intermittent electricity.

Moufleh and his family applied for refugee status in Canada on Dec. 5, according to Ahmed. But because Morjan's application was processed apart from her family's, and because of hiccups with paperwork and the refugee process in Canada, Morjan has spent months anxiously waiting for her son and grandchildren to arrive.

"Since June 22," Morjan said Friday with the help of Kadham, who lives in Lewisporte herself. "She's been counting it by day."

"She said of course she's very very happy. Her excitement is beyond words."

Just after arriving at the airport Friday night, to a big welcoming committee, the new residents took off for Lewisporte.

This weekend, the family will be waking up together in their new home: An apartment in United Church minister Rev. Stephanie McClellan's house.

McClellan, who heads the Lewisporte Refugee Outreach Committee said their arrival was supposed happen a year ago, if it was not for the delays.

"There's a lot of stuff that we could focus on on that, but we just really want to spend time talking about the complete joy it is to be here at this moment," she said Friday night.

The minister said Morjan has already been integrating into the small town well, calling her a "delight" to be around.

"We used to get the biggest kick, the first week or so we'd be walking down the street and people would be honking horns or waving and stuff, and she'd tell her family 'I'm a movie star!'" 

She said the people of Lewisporte have also been anxiously awaiting the new arrivals.

"Everybody's been waiting. Everywhere you go they've been saying Reverend Steph, where's the family?  Are they coming? Are they coming?"

"So everybody will be glad to finally meet them."

There is still a lot to be done to help the family integrate into Lewisporte. On Friday night, Moussa and Rayane got hats and mitts, and some stuffed animals.

As Moussa said he's most excited to play in the snow, more winter gear will probably be needed. Then there are bank accounts, and groceries and finances to worry about, said McClellan.

Moufleh said he was already sold on Canada.

"He says this country, who doesn't know me, and they know that I am a different person, from different culture. And they are telling me come here, we are going to take you, we are going to help you to solve your problem," Kadham said.

"So how [can] I not be in love or excited to be laying down in this country."