Nelson Komi helps out in the kitchen. Nelson’s dream is to be a chef in Canada. (Tim Collins / Sooke News Mirror

Nelson Komi helps out in the kitchen. Nelson’s dream is to be a chef in Canada. (Tim Collins / Sooke News Mirror

Sudanese newcomers settle into Sooke

It’s been a long road from Sudan to Sooke

A Sudanese family arrived in Sooke last month to start a new life in a new county.

The Komi family – father Khalil, mother Thamar, son Nelson, and daughters Nazik and Noor – arrived here through the efforts of the Team Juan de Fuca Refugee Sponsorship Group.

RELATED: Application to sponsor looks further afield

Speaking through an interpreter, Khalil and Thamar smiled as they recounted the family’s arrival in Canada.

“When we first arrived at Pearson airport in Toronto, I was immediately struck by how clean and organized it all was,” Khalil said.

“The friendliness of the people here is remarkable. Everyone you meet, it’s like you’ve been friends for a very long time.”

Thamar shared those same sentiments, saying that she was overwhelmed by the reception they’d received at the Victoria airport.

“There were so many people and they gave us flowers,” she said with a shy smile.

“It gave me so much joy. We felt like we had come home.”

But the family’s road to Sooke was not an easy one.

A civil war between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and the Islamic government forces in Sudan had brought horrific persecution against the Nuba people and particularly against the Christian minority, including the Komi family.

The family was displaced eight years ago when government forces destroyed their village, crops and cattle and killed family members.

The Komis fled, first to Khartoum, then on to Cairo, Egypt where they’ve been since 2013.

But the family’s situation in Egypt was difficult, said Sharon Sterling of the refugee sponsorship group, as they could never become citizens in Egypt and their children had no hope of a real education. Their ability to work was also limited.

But the past is behind them, and now the Komi family is looking to the future.

ALSO READ: Group edges closer to sponsorship

“Our children are overwhelmed by everything they see here,” Thamar said.

“They love it (in Sooke) and have asked why we didn’t bring them here sooner. We had to explain to them that it wasn’t something we could do before.”

Both Khalil and Thamar are concentrating on their English lessons, but they are anxious to find work as soon as possible.

Sterling said both Khali and Thamar want to work and that her group will provide an interpreter to any employer who give the new arrivals a job.

“I won’t just be sitting back and learning English, I want to work as soon as I can,” Khalil said.

For her part, Thamar showed off a collection of beautiful, intricate henna tattoos adorning her arms. She’d done the work herself in a traditional celebration when she was told the family could come to Canada.

“I can work, too. I can do henna tattoos, crochet, and do traditional hair weaves. Maybe someone will hire me to do that.”

As to whether the family will stay in Sooke, Khalil said it will largely depend on his ability to find work to support his family.

“It’s too early to say, but I can say that I love it here. I love the lush green and I love the rain. It’s so beautiful. I really don’t like big cities,” he said.

As for the children, Nelson is enrolled at Journey Middle School and is already starting to make friends.

Working to help prepare lunch in Sterling’s kitchen, he said his dream is to be a chef.

Mazik and Noor have also started making friends at the local playground and both will also be starting school in Sooke where they are looking forward to making new friends.

“This is an awesome start to a new life. We are fulfilling our dreams – for us and for our children,” Khalil said.

“We have freedom here. It’s like getting a wonderful gift, and it’s a gift that keeps coming as we learn more about life here.”



mailto:tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Khali Komi says that the freedom he’s found in Canada is like a gift that keeps giving. (Tim Collins / Sooke News Mirror)

Khali Komi says that the freedom he’s found in Canada is like a gift that keeps giving. (Tim Collins / Sooke News Mirror)

Thamar and Nelson Komi share a laugh as they talk about their new home in Sooke (Tim Collins / Sooke News Mirror)

Thamar and Nelson Komi share a laugh as they talk about their new home in Sooke (Tim Collins / Sooke News Mirror)

Just Posted

Vehicles involved crashes in Oak Bay from 2019. (ICBC Screenshot)
A crash on Foul Bay Road near Carnarvon Street in 2018. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Foul Bay Road a corridor of crashes in 2019

Last year, 63 crashes in Oak Bay involved vehicles

An economic recovery plan in progress since April offers various recommendations for the region to overcome the impacts of COVID-19. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Greater Victoria economic ‘reboot’ plan tackles impacts of COVID-19

Newly-formed task force looks at various sectors, industries

Canadians paid more for various categories of groceries including lettuce and meat in October. (USDA/Submitted)
Canadians paid more for food and housing in October as inflation rose

Lettuce prices rose more than 25 per cent in October thanks to bad weather and disease

A deer pokes through the gardens at Beacon Hill Park. The Royal BC Museum. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Esquimalt mayor repeats call for regional approach to urban deer management

Province waiting on Oak Bay results, Desjardins says cost of duplicating process ‘considerable’

Oak Bay artist Jennifer Olson is one of 15 participating in this weekend’s Oak Bay Artists’ Exhibition, (Nov. 21 and 22) in the Monterey Recreation Centre’s Garry Oak Room. (Jennifer Olson Photo)
Oak Bay host pandemic-safe art exhibition

Art show to feature 15 artists at Monterey centre, Nov. 21 and 22

Numuch Keitlah, left, and Jake Thomas, centre, participate in a Coastal Nations search and rescue exercise off the coast of Vancouver Island in this undated handout photo. The recently operational Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary has more than 50 members from five Indigenous territories who are trained in marine search and rescue. They are on call day and night to respond to emergencies along some of B.C.’s most rugged and remote coastal areas. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Jordan Wilson *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Canada’s first Indigenous-led coast guard auxiliary patrols B.C.’s rugged coast

Auxiliary is part of the feds’ $1.5 billion plan to improve marine safety and protect the environment

An Oceana Canada audit of Canadian fish stocks reveals a growing number with critical populations, calling on Fisheries and Oceans Canada to enact existing commitments. (File photo)
B.C.’s declining fisheries the result of poor DFO management: audit

Oceana Canada calls for follow through on government commitments

Randy Bell. (File photo)
Former northern B.C. mayoral candidate arrested after allegedly refusing to wear mask

Randy Bell handcuffed and given a warning at Bulkley Valley Credit Union in Smithers

James Corden on the Late Late Show talking about BC Ferries on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (Screenshot)
‘You’ll see it when you see it’: BC Ferries mask graphic gains James Corden’s attention

Turns out, James Corden fans were just as quick as B.C. social media users to pick up on the dual imagery

Andrew Wilkinson addresses a BC Liberal Forestry Rally in Campbell River on Oct. 17, 2020.
Andrew Wilkinson quits as BC Liberal Leader, party to choose interim replacement

Wilkinson had previously said he would stay in his role till a new leader were to be selected

Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League has halted all games until further notice based on B.C. public health officer orders and information from B.C. Hockey. Pictured here, action between Nanaimo and Campbell River from last March. (News Bulletin file)
VIJHL hits pause on season due to COVID-19 orders

All games postponed beginning Nov. 21, says hockey league

Most Read