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‘My heart is here’: Syrian family look back on 3 years in Revelstoke

The Alsowwan arrived in Revelstoke as refugees in 2019, and are now moving to Kelowna
Farhan and Amal Alsowwan have spent the last three years in Revelstoke after arriving as refugees from Jordan. (Josh Piercey/Revelstoke Review)

Three and a half years ago, the Alsowwan family was picked up from the Kelowna International Airport by a group from Revelstoke who welcomed them onto Canadian soil with warm coats and boots.

Amal and Farhan Alsowwan arrived in Revelstoke as refugees seeking a prosperous future for themselves and their two sons, Hamza and Mohammad. They were forced to flee Syria due to the ongoing civil war and spent some time in Jordan before making the trip to Canada.

Before coming to Revelstoke, their previous three homes were destroyed by tanks, shrapnel and air fire.

“I loved it so much, but it became a war and I had to go to another country,” said Amal.

She added that before arriving in Canada, everything was difficult for her and her family.

“You are alone in every sense of the word.”

Now, the Alsowwan family is saying goodbye to the place they’ve learned to call home.

As she sat in her Revelstoke apartment, with a view of the mountains and trees just outside her window, tears filled Amal’s eyes as memories from her time in the community swirled around her head. Now that her sons have graduated from high school, her family is moving to Kelowna to give them as many opportunities as possible.

Although it’s very different from the place she grew up, Amal said that she’s grown to love the natural beauty of Revelstoke – the mountains, trees, fresh air, and even the snow.

But more than the natural beauty, she’s come to love the people. Amal said that she’s found a new family in Revelstoke and that she felt love and tenderness from the people of the community as they accepted her into their world.

“Every time I fell into a big problem, there was someone to help me, and it made me stand up again,” said Amal.

According to Amal, leaving Revelstoke will leave a big hole in her heart, the same feeling she experienced when leaving her family in Jordan and Syria.

Hamza, Amal, Farhan and Mohammad Alsowwan at a pot luck at the United Church in 2020 to celebrate their one year anniversary in the community. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Hamza, Amal, Farhan and Mohammad Alsowwan at a pot luck at the United Church in 2020 to celebrate their one year anniversary in the community. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Amal and Farhan also spent a considerable amount of time giving back to the community they have come to love. They volunteered at the food bank every moment they possibly could.

“The Alsowwans have been a significant part of the volunteer team since 2019 and they will be missed dearly by staff, clients and volunteers alike. They will always remain part of the food bank family, and we wish them well on their new adventures,” stated Community Connections in response to the news that the Alsowwans would be moving

Amal said during her time in Revelstoke, she never once felt like she was different, and she always felt accepted by the people of the community.

She said one of her fondest memories happened while on a walk one night. She was walking through town, past a party, and her friend invited her to the party for a dance.

While telling the story, she smiled and pointed at her hijab. It was strange to her that everybody danced with her despite her differences.

“It shows the good people here,” she added.

“Everyone in Revelstoke works with their heart, not their head.

“My body is going to Kelowna with my family. My heart is here.”

Amal said she hopes to come back and visit Revelstoke whenever she can.

READ MORE: Syrian refugee living in Revelstoke is striving for a better life for her children

READ MORE: Syrian family celebrates one year in Revelstoke


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