By Alex Wilks, For the Now-Leader
FLEETWOOD — The Egyptian Academy for Arabic and Islamic Studies held a fundraiser on Sunday at Coyote Creek Elementary to help Syrian families in Surrey.
The non-profit organization hosts weekly classes at the school, teaching Arabic reading and writing as well as providing Syrian families with access to resources in their own language.
“The school system here is amazing, the kids are actually enjoying being in the school,” said Syrian refugee Ghadah Alshikhah. “The language – we find it the hardest. It’s good to mix cultures together so that we can feel integrated.”
More than 200 students ages four to 17 attend the school every Sunday. About 30 of them are from Syria.
“I want the community to know that we are teaching the kids to maintain their culture as well as focus with them on how to be Canadian,” said one of the founders of the school, Mervat Kharsa.
Vendors sold traditional Arabic clothing and homemade delicacies at the event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Refugee, Kefke Senife, packaged some homemade pickles, cheese and cookies using her own family recipes. She has named her business The Syrian Kitchen and said that she hopes to receive enough publicity through community events to get up and running.
EAALS Supervisor Dina Negm said that all the donations collected from the fundraiser will pay the rental fees for the building and help cut school costs for the refugee families.
“We want to build leaders for the future so we get them involved in the community and reach out,” said Negm. “We’re hoping to show everybody what the real Islam is,” she added.
“We are people that like to help others.”