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Victoria woman hopes quake-hit brother in Turkey can join her

Malak Dwaidari’s brother, Nizar Dwaidari, spent five nights sleeping on the street after his building collapsed
Malak Dwaidari and her family came to Victoria as refugees in 2016. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A Syrian woman who settled in Victoria seven years ago is urgently trying to bring her brother’s family to Canada after they lost everything in last month’s earthquakes in Turkey.

Malak Dwaidari’s brother, Nizar Dwaidari, spent five nights sleeping on the street after his building collapsed during the second of two devastating earthquakes that hit southern and central Turkey and northern and western Syria on Feb. 6. Tens of thousands of people were killed and thousands of buildings collapsed, leaving people exposed to “unforgiving” winter weather, according to the United Nations.

Nizar Dwaidari’s mother-in-law was among those killed and his sister-in-law was injured.

His family of six was temporarily offered a spare room to live in, but with so many people affected, many locals are now suggesting he return to Syria. He lost his job in a sewing factory because of the earthquakes.

“They say go to your hometown. Go to Syria. We’re not able to help you anymore,” Malak Dwaidari said. But their hometown in war-torn Syria is too risky for him to return, so he’s stuck in a country without full rights where the need for help is overwhelming. Malak Dwaidari is trying to sponsor her brother and his wife and four children to join her in Canada, with help from those who sponsored her family to settle in Victoria.

Dwaidari also lived in Turkey before coming to Canada, and she struggled emotionally and financially in Turkey. She was “so happy” when she found out she was moving to Canada and envisioned a better future for her children, which she’s now seeing play out.

“When you see your kids are safe and they have a really good future, you forget about everything, but we always have a broken heart about people who are left behind,” she said.

A teacher in Syria, Malak works as an education assistant in the Greater Victoria School District. Her husband works for a fishing company.

Anyone wishing to join the group trying to sponsor Nizar Dwaidari and his family or interested in donating can contact Tricia Sanders at [email protected].

[email protected]

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