Mohammed Alsaleh came to Canada as a refugee from Syria. “Staying in the country was not an option – I had to leave,” he says, having had family and friends killed and his hometown destroyed by war. “This is something that was forced on millions of Syrians. I was one of them.”
In Syria he was studying to be a doctor; here in Canada he was told he couldn’t pick up where he left off, but would have to start at the beginning. He focused on school, improving his English, and finding a job.
He discovered the library – a place for books (some in Arabic as well), for learning and for support. He also used VPL’s free job search workshops. The library was like his home, he says. “After my English classes I would come here and study. The first card I had here in Canada was the library card.”
“Canada chose me,” Mohammed says, “I’m glad that Canada gave me this opportunity to have this start-over. I owe my life to this country.”
Mohammed has flourished since his arrival, speaking at several TEDx events and working as a Refugee Sponsorship Trainer; supporting the private sponsorship of refugees in the community. He is even writing a children’s book.