HALIFAX STANFIELD: The wait is over.

After close to two years of ups and downs, the Hants East Assisting Refugee Team (HEART) Society officially got to welcome their Syrian refugee sponsored family to Canadian soil on Sept. 29 as the Barho family walked through the security gates at Halifax Stanfield Airport to a throng of cheers from volunteers and other community members.

VIDEO: The Barho family arrives

The Barho family with HEART Society members Leno Ribahi and Natalie Horne. (Healey photo)

The family comprises two adults and six children—two who will go to Riverside Education Centre and two to Elmsdale Elementary School.

“We’re really anxious to finally meet them,” said Horne minutes before the flight landed, adding they have spoken to the family through Skype. “To meet them first-hand will be exciting, but also a little bit of nervousness with the language barrier. But in the end I think love and kindness conquers all languages.”

Heather von Kintzel said there were some times that had excitement, only to be disappointed that the people who they thought were coming weren’t for a variety of reasons.

“That has led us to have a good reason to celebrate the Barho’s arrival,” she said.

A young kid presents a welcoming gift to one of the Barho children. (Healey photo)

When asked about the extra 40 minute wait for the family’s flight to land—it was scheduled for 5:20 p.m., but delayed until 6 p.m.—Horne had a great response.

“What’s 40 more minutes when we’ve been waiting for almost two years,” said Horne. “We’re just excited to greet them and make them part of our community.

Horne said HEART will rely on other local refugee groups knowledge and assistance to get the Barho family settled in.

“That experience will be invaluable to us,” she said. “The communities support is what allowed us to bring them here. We hope the community continues to support us and welcome our newcomers to the area.”

The Barho family, speaking through translator and Elmsdale businessman Leno Ribahi, said they feel very welcomed to Canada.

“We couldn’t imagine how good it is,” said Mrs. Barho through Ribahi. “We feel like we’re at home already.”

(Healey photo)

Mrs. Barho said the family had an idea of what to expect when they came through the doors and didn’t feel overwhelmed by it.

“We knew enough about Canada that we figured there would be a welcoming like this,” she said.

What does it mean to finally be in Canada after such a long journey?

“We’re very thrilled to be here in Canada,” said Mrs. Barho through Ribahi. “Happiness.”

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Patrick Healey
Pat has grown up in East Hants, having called Milford, and now Enfield home. He graduated from the journalism program at Holland College in 2001, and has spent time at newspapers in NL and Alberton and Summerside, PEI before becoming a reporter/photographer at The Weekly Press/The Laker in October 2008. He has a rescue kitty named Asha that is much loved—and spoiled. Pat is also our "social engagement guru." Check him out on twitter!