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Café helps Syrian refugees adjust to life in Toronto

Café helps Syrian refugees adjust to life in Torontoimage

03 Nov 2015

A café in Toronto is helping refugees from Syria build a new life for themselves in Canada.

About 16 Syrian refugees are currently working at the Beiruti Café, located 155 Consumers Rd. in the area of Sheppard Avenue East and Highway 404.

Owner Jack Boyadjian says he wants to help as many refugees as possible because he knows what they are going through.

“I lost my home, my house, my everything … and these people are going through the same story,” said Boyadjian, who fled Lebanon 28 years ago.

And for those who just arrived in Canada, having a place to work makes all the difference.

“Everything is perfect for now, as a beginner,” said Nareg Minassian, who arrived in Toronto three weeks ago. “Everything will be okay, I think.”

Minassian is just one of the millions forced to flee war-torn Syria.

In September, the federal government announced 2,300 Syrians had arrived in Canada. Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau has vowed to increase that number to 25,000 by the end of year.

It’s unclear whether that number is attainable, but Syrian refugees who are already in Canada say there is no doubt that more needs to be done.

“It’s a disaster, to be honest,” said Sara Yatim, a Syrian refugee who came to Toronto three years ago and an employee at the café. “It’s not healthy to live in a war. It’s really hard to get food, there’s no electricity (or) water.

Yatim has been here for three years, but she says her grandmother and aunt are still living in Aleppo — one of the cities hardest hit by the civil war in Syria.

“We had to come here, start from zero all over again,” Yatim said. “It’s really hard.”

Sevan Mawinian, who arrived from Syria in June, said she has two daughters she no longer has to worry about when they are at school.

“When we go to school (in Syria), you don’t know if you will return to your home or not,” Mawinian said.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than four million Syrians have fled to the county’s immediate neighbours Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. An estimated 6.5 million have been internally within Syria, the UNHCR says.

More than 740,000 of those refugees have arrived on the shores of Europe this year.

In October alone, more than 218,000 refugees arrived in Europe. That’s more than the total number in 2014.

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