Dalya, Ibrahim and Ansam Alkhalaf had never seen snow in their lives. They were born in Syria and had fled to Lebanon because of the civil war.
Last Saturday, they had their first encounter with snow. They went sledding on snow-covered Armour Hill in Peterborough, Ontario.
“It’s a famous hill in Peterbrough,” says David McNab. “Almost every kid has tobaggoned there.”
The kids absolutely loved it.
In a video posted on YouTube, McNab, a police officer in Ontario, captures the joy on the faces of the kids as they sled down the hill.
Seeing their smiles, it's hard to think that just three weeks ago, the Alkhalaf family was enduring a tough life in a refugee camp in Lebanon.
McNab, his wife, and a group of their friends decided to sponsor the family to come to Canada.
“[We] wanted to do something so we reached out to the government and we were provided a list. We selected their profile of the list and then we were connected with them,” McNab explains.
It was through a reporter, Michael Friscolanti of Macleans Magazine in Canada, they managed to track down the family in Lebanon and sponsor them.
“[Michael] traveled to Lebanon and miraculously was able to find her [the mother, Amal Alkhalaf],” McNab says.
Amal's husband has been missing for several years. He went missing during the war in Syria and she hasn't heard from him. But she remains hopeful that one day he will return.
McNab admits that, at first, sponsoring a Syrian family sounded like a daunting task. But it proved to be much easier than he imagined.
“We had a meeting and the next thing you know, we were talking about fundraising and about what we could do to support them when they came to Canada,” he says.
Sine arriving in Canada three weeks ago, the children have been going to school. “These kids love school like you wouldn’t believe. They’re excited to go to school. In the van, driving to school they sing 'O Canada,'” McNab says.
Amal is also enrolled in the local college and is taking an English course. “She’s excited. She gets on the bus and goes to school and she has friends there too. They’re adapting very well,” McNab says.
When not in school, they love to drink Tim Horton's hot chocolate and go shopping for new clothes.
McNab says that the kids are "already crying to go off sledding" again.
Which could happen very soon given all the fresh snow that's likely to get dumped on the eastern US and Canada.