The Kimberley Refugee Resettlement Group welcomed Chaudhry Hasham and his family to town this past September.
Since that time, Hasham, wife Rabia Anwar, and children Chaudhry Ibtsam, 8, Breerah Hasham, 6 and Chaudhry Hashir, 5 have been getting used to their new home.
And the children are anxiously waiting for enough snow so they can learn to ski.
It is a big adjustment in many ways. The climate is very different from Bangkok, Thailand, where they spent four years as refugees, and from their home in Pakistan. This will be their first experience with winter. The verdict? Very enjoyable so far.
“I will learn to ski,” said Hasham. “The whole family will.”
It’s also a big adjustment to live in such a small town after spending their entire lives in cities of 10 million or more.
“We have to adapt to everything,” Chaudhry Hasham said.
“Some things are easy, some… I don’t want to say hard. Hard is a hard word.
“No one can say their problems are 100 per cent solved, but more are being solved every day. It’s wonderful.”
The best news of all for the family came this week as Chaudhry Hasham, who is trained as a chef, got a job. He will be working at Kimberley Alpine Resort as soon as the ski hill opens. He has joined other citizens of Kimberley in hoping for just a little more snow so the ski hill can open as scheduled.
KRRG is also trying to arrange for a car for the family to make the commute to work easier. Not only will it help with the job, says Hasham, but it will also give the family more independence, not having to rely on others to get around.
Wife Rabia Anwar, who has a Bachelor of Education and a Bachelor of Arts, plus a Masters degree in languages, is a teacher by profession and hopes to work eventually, once the family is more settled.
The two oldest kids are in school and settling in very well. The oldest boy, Ibtsam, is very fluent in English, Dad says, and his teachers tell him that he is reading and writing well. Breerah Hasham is a little less fluent than her brother but picking the language up well. Both students have been working hard at home, with their parents help, to be up to speed.
As for five-year old Chaudhry Hashir, he’s a talker.
“The little one speaks a mixture of languages and he changes his accent every time he meets someone new,” Dad says with a laugh.
So the family is settling in to life in Kimberley and the Kootenays. For all the little challenges, the community has been welcoming, says Hasham.
And most importantly, they are feeling safe.
“We spent four years in Thailand as urban refugees,” he said. “All the time, we lived in fear of arrest. I wasn’t allowed officially to work, or to take a conveyance (bus or taxi). People are dying there. They still are.
“We are in very good hands. KRRG is working very hard with us. We are feeling no more loneliness.”
KRRG has received a tremendous amount of support from volunteers, donors, sponsors, and the entire city of Kimberley and community, and for that they want to say “Thank-you!” Please join them on December 6, 2016 at the Elks from 5-7pm. It is a drop-in event and open invitation so please spread the word and bring along any family and friends. Refreshments and snacks will be provided, along with some family entertainment.