News / Calgary

First Syrian refugee baby welcomed in Calgary

The family said they feel very grateful for all the help they've received from Calgarians

Seham Talab gives two-day-old Mohammed a kiss on the forehead.

Jennifer Friesen / Metro

Seham Talab gives two-day-old Mohammed a kiss on the forehead.

The very first Syrian refugee baby born in Calgary was welcomed into the world in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

But the birth of baby Mohammad Al Masalma has quite the story to go along with it. 

“I wasn’t expecting to be here when I had the baby,” said the mother, Seham Talab through a translator. “But, I feel so grateful.”

Talab went in for a clinic appointment Tuesday, not expecting to have her baby that day, and was rushed to the hospital where she was told she was in labour – already four centimeters dilated. 

While husband Yahya Al Masalma was at home caring for their other children, two volunteers from the Syrian Refugee Support group stepped up to help Talab through the delivery.

New “sisters” Sereen Bishawi (left), Seham Talab and Ronnie Saadeh cuddle with baby Mohammad.

Jennifer Friesen / For Metro

New “sisters” Sereen Bishawi (left), Seham Talab and Ronnie Saadeh cuddle with baby Mohammad.

“She’s in a new country, she doesn’t speak any English and in her country they do things very differently there. Her previous births were done at home with a midwife,” said Ronnie Saadeh, who rushed to be by Talab's side when she heard what was happening.

Sereen Bishawi, the other volunteer who helped Talab through the birth of Mohammad said it was actually the first time they had ever met her. 

 “We just went there to translate, help her out and be there for her,” she said. 

Talab, who, along with her husband came direct to Canada from the Syrian border town of Daraa, said she feels like Saadeh and Bishawi are now her family.

“I feel like they’re my sisters,” said Talab. “They made me feel calm and translated between me and the doctors during labour.”

Baby Mohammad

Jennifer Friesen / For Metro

Baby Mohammad

Saadeh and Bishawi agree they’ve forged a very special bond. 

“I feel like I want to be in touch with them forever,” said Bishawi. “She’s an amazing woman, her story is amazing, she’s very strong and we’ve got a special connection now.”

Saadeh said Talab felt bad for taking them away from their families, but they felt honoured to be a part of it. 

“It brought us to tears because she was so grateful we were there,” she said.

Ronnie Saadeh and baby Mohammad.

Jennifer Friesen / For Metro

Ronnie Saadeh and baby Mohammad.

Al Masalma said he is so thankful for the support their family has received.

“We’re so happy,” he said through a translator. “We want to thank the Canadian government, Calgarians and the community who has helped us. We want to thank everybody for the wonderful sense of community we’re feeling.”

“We’re grateful people here treat us like Canadians and not strangers,” he said. “We feel like we’ve become Canadians.”

Both baby Mohammad and Talab are healthy and at home with their family. Mohammad weighed in at an impressive 8 pounds 2 ounces and was 21 inches long.

Seham Talab and husband Mohammad Al Masalma with their children.

Jennifer Friesen / For Metro

Seham Talab and husband Mohammad Al Masalma with their children.

If you are interested in helping the Syrian Refugee Support Group Calgary please visit www.yycsyr.cca.

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