Vancouver duo helps find bikes for newly arrived Syrian kids

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Vancouver duo helps find bikes for newly arrived Syrian kids

A grassroots project in Vancouver is trying to give Syrian refugee families who have arrived in Canada a quintessential childhood experience: riding a bicycle.

Lulu Leathley, a Vancouver-based music facilitator, started working with Syrian refugees families last year. 

"I talked to a 12-year-old girl and asked her what was one thing you had that was positive for you when you were in the camp in Jordan, and she said I learned how to ride a bike." 

"That started the ball rolling and a lot of people gave me bikes that they had in their basements," Leathley said.

Since then, Leathley partnered with Don Selby, the owner of Ride on Bikes in Kitsilano.

"On of the most important things in my life was a bicycle," he said. "For anyone who's into bikes, it's an important part of their life. It allows them freedom."

With Don's help, Lulu has distributed over 25 bikes to Syrian families.

The Hamad family, who live in Surrey, were one such family. The Hamads used to live a comfortable life back in Syria surrounded by a loving extended familiy.

After spending time in camps in Egypt and Jordan, parents Noor and Ferez Hamad are thankful to be safe in Canada but they miss family who are now scattered.

"It's a different life here. We came here because we were concerned about our kids future," said dad Ferez through a translator.

They say the most important thing is keeping their three children close as a family and making sure they are happy. Leathley's bicycle delivery helped.

"It's the best feeling in the world to see your kids happy," he said.

"We're so happy to be meeting Canadians and people from different cultures," added Mom Noor.

She and Don were able to provide bikes, locks and helmets for seven-year-old Alma, 12-year-old Sema, and 15-year-old Mohammed.

Mohammed said the last time he owned a bike he was a seven-year-old back in Syria.

"I feel good and I'm so happy."

With files from Margaret Gallagher

To listen to the segment, click on the link labelled Grassroots effort brings bicycles to Syrian refugee kids in Vancouver