'My dream is to open a Syrian cake shop in Cheshire Oaks'
7 March 2018When Syrian Omar Ahmad was hiding from the bombs raining down on his home in Aleppo in 2013 he had a simple dream: to escape from the hell of the war engulfing his country and lead his wife and three children to safety.
Now, with the care offered to Omar and other Syrian families by Cheshire West and Chester Council , he has a new dream: to open a Syrian cake shop in Cheshire Oaks Retail Park.
It has been a long and stressful journey to a safer life for the Syrian families flown over to different parts of the UK by the British Government since December 2016 as part of a five-year refugee programme to rescue the most vulnerable victims of the Syrian war.
Among the Syrians now living in Ellesmere Port is also Adnan Alater from Damascus. It has been a traumatic few years for Adnan, his wife and three children.
He said: “When I was in Damascus I lost everything: my house, my carpentry shop, there were bombs. I escaped to Egypt with my family, but my father, mother and sister are still in Syria. I’m very concerned about them.”
When Adnan arrived in England 14 months ago he was ‘shocked’ to experience the sudden culture change between being in a place of war to one of peace.
If it wasn’t for the support provided by the Cheshire West and Chester Council and its partnership with the charity P3 and the Cheshire, Halton and Warrington Race & Equality Centre (CHAWREC), Adnan’s traumatic life would have continued.
However, his life is on the mend as a result of the council’s support with accommodation, schooling, cultural and emotional advice, and English lessons.
He explained: “I am eager to learn the language but it is very hard. The council runs the lessons and they are doing a good job. The council helped me by finding me a house and gave advice about where to go and what to do.
“They helped us by showing us where to take the children to school. I am looking for a job and a carpentry qualification so that I can look after myself.”
TK Al Jorani is co-chairman of CHAWREC which is an important support for the refugees. He said: “It is really positive that the Government have taken the refugees and brought them here. Our experience here in Cheshire in dealing with the refugees has been enhanced in the last few years and, with the support of the council, it is benefitting the Syrian people. We like to make their lives here as easy as possible, so that they are integrated and can live a normal life.”
Omar Ahmad arrived in Ellesmere Port a year ago from Aleppo. He said: “There is nothing left of Aleppo. I’m very sad, there is nothing left of my country. When the war started I was in my house and the bombs were coming down on top of us. I was very scared all of the time.
“I never spoke English before I came here but now I am able to speak some English. I do understand people in shops. I was really happy to be here when I got here. I came from a different way of life but the people here have been wonderful.
“The council has helped me since I have been here and as other Syrians have arrived they are getting better at helping the families and finding translators for them.
“The council has helped us to meet people and have been encouraging us to volunteer and giving us English lessons. I volunteer at a farm for four hours a week.
“I was a tailor in Syria with 25 years-experience making coats. I am looking for a job in a factory or a warehouse but in the future I want to be self-employed.
“My dream is to open a store in Cheshire Oaks. I want to sell Syrian cakes or sweets there. I have seen lots of Arabic people in Cheshire Oaks and they like Syrian sweets. English people will like Syrian sweets too, they are very tasty.”
Councillor Angela Claydon, cabinet member for housing, said: “Cheshire West and Chester Council and its partners are preparing to welcome more families to the borough from Syria in the coming months and the partnership is well equipped to aid their integration.
“It is important that Syrian people feel welcome here. They are being given support by Cheshire West and Chester Council and our partners to become valuable members of our community, which will go a small way to alleviating the trauma which they have experienced in war-torn Syria.”