Little Mohammad Al Sweileh turns one this week, and he is stateless.
Born in a Lebanese as a refugee, he has a Lebanese birth certificate but no passport.
While his family originally thought Lebanon would be a safe alternative to their war-torn homeland of Syria, his family is now unsafe due to the increased violence against Syrians in Lebanon.
Mohammad’s family is being sponsored by the Central Okanagan Refugee Committee (CORC).
Young Mohammad’s grandparents and their five youngest children came to Kelowna as refugees in 2015.
Mohammad’s grandfather, also named Mohammad, said: “ I have never met my two youngest grandchildren. I am so happy that they will be able to be safe in Canada.”
Mohammad’s mother, Ebtisam, has four children ages six and younger.
Ibrahim, six, is learning English. Fatima is five and hasn’t started school yet.
Noha is three and was the last child of the family born in Syria.
Ebtisam’s husband, Osama Ibrahim, works in agriculture, as a vegetable farmer and as an orchardist.
Jodine Ducs, treasurer for the Central Okanagan Refugee Committee, said, “We still need help supporting the family.”
To help support the Al Sweileh family, Canadian author Lawrence Hill read from his new novel “Illegal.” Hill will lead a discussion about welcoming refugees.
The evening will include a silent auction of commissioned festive floral arrangements as an additional fundraiser as well as book sales.
Hill’s presentation takes place Thursday, Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m., at the Mission Creek Alliance Church.
Buy tickets for the fundraiser online at kelowantickets.com.