Volunteer profile: “We are all here to help”
Date Posted: Tuesday, August 16, 2016

“Each person in the world is equal and we are all here to help each other,” said Amal Arkoub. And that is just the philosophy that her family lives by.
Amal arrived in Canada from Syria in May 2014 and stayed with her brother and sister-in-law in Amherstburg, Ontario for two years until the rest of her family arrived in March 2016. The two years she was here, without her husband and children were very difficult, but she knew it would all be worth it when they arrived. The decision to come to Canada was not an easy one, but Amal and her husband Jamal knew that by making this move they were choosing the brightest future for their children.
Amal’s youngest son has spinal muscular atrophy and received physical therapy in Syria. When her husband and children arrived, Amal was in search of a place for Amir to resume his therapy. She was referred to the John McGivney Children’s Centre (JMCC).
“When we first came to the centre, we felt at home,” said Amal, who was instantly humbled and amazed by the JMCC staff who went above and beyond to help the newly arrived family navigate the system and access the services they needed.
In Syria, Amal was an Obstetrician/Gynecologist. She helped many women and families daily and absolutely loved her job of welcoming new life into the world. Since she is unable to practice in Canada she was determined to find other ways to give back to the community.
In talking with the Family Services team at the JMCC, she discovered that there was a need to have information materials translated into Arabic for other families who use the centre. Amal, who has always loved English, immediately jumped at the chance to help. She has also acted as a translator for families on their visits to the centre.
“Our transition and move to Canada has been and will continue to be difficult,” said Amal, who now lives in Windsor, Ontario. “I can’t imagine how much more difficult it would be if we didn’t speak or understand English. Other families are trying to settle here without knowing the language and I am so happy to be able to help them.” 
Clearly living the philosophy of their parents, Amir and his siblings Hashem and Maryam are proud to volunteer several days a week at the JMCC summer day camp. They assist with camp activities and act as role models to the campers. They are dedicated to their work and enthusiastic about being part of the camp. The hours they are volunteering will go toward their 40 hours of community service needed to graduate high school in Ontario, but the memories and relationships they are creating are far more precious.  
“What we do for the centre, for Canada, is nothing compared to what has been done for us. The people here, they have sweet hearts,” said Amal.
It is pretty evident that Amal and her family have sweet hearts too.

*This family is looking to rent an accessible home. They are currently living in an apartment with no elevator and are required to carry their teenage son and his wheelchair up and down the stairs multiple times a day. If anyone has information that could help, please let the JMCC know. Thank you.  

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