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From a small kitchen in a home to a global …The full story of Hadhad family with Justin Trudeau.

The family of the Syrian immigrant to Canada, Essam Hadhad, never thought that its story would be the subject of follow-up and attention from the highest levels in Canada, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in person at the United Nations to the presidents of the world.

After Trudeau’s speech at the United Nations, the family could not sleep for two days of intense joy. What did this family do and how did it begin? How in a record time this family managed to transform the suffering it had experienced during the war in Syria and the years of waiting in the refugee camps in Lebanon into an incentive for integration, success and fame not only in Canada but also in the world.

Father Issam Hadhad and the son Tareq, in an unprecedented time, set an example for all Syrians, Arabs and new immigrants. They proved that the “Canadian dream” could start from the kitchen, with simple tools and small capital money, and most importantly they emphasized that “we came as immigrants to Canada to give, not to take “and to give back to the good Canadian people who greeted the Syrians and others in a fit and warm reception.

 Tariq Hadhad, the doctor and the eldest son of this family, with the fluency of English and the sense of humor and intelligence in understanding the Canadian society, needs and desires and how to communicate with it, managed to present the story of his family in a remarkable way of attention and exciting to the Canadian public.

“The Migrant” was honored to hold a telephone interview with Dr. Tariq in which it witnessed the march of this family since its arrival in Canada until now.

How did you start your trip to Canada?

After leaving Syria, we stayed in Lebanon for two and a half years and then I came to the city of Antigonish in the province of Nova Scotia without my family to complete my cardiac surgery. I arrived in Canada in January 2016, then my family followed me a month later. We were like others who arrived in Canada under the one year sponsorship program. The Canadian people were very nice and hospitable. They  helped us secure the home and schools for my brothers and the integration within the Canadian society, but we requested that the aid provided to us be given to sponsor  another Syrian family to Canada.

How did the idea of a chocolate factory in Canada pop up?

My father has more than 30 years of experience in the chocolate industry. He ran the family business in Syria and noticed at first that most people moved to other cities in Canada or the United States to find jobs. I wondered why I would not start working here from this small town, then I can help others and secure their jobs in the future? Later on things went very quickly that I did not envision, and from here I started thinking about starting my work with my family from our home a month and a half after we arrived.

Do not you think it was a great risk to start setting up a private business for a family that has only been in Canada for a month and a half in a new country and did not yet have the tools?

For me, such a project is an opportunity and not a risk because Canadian society was very open to helping the Syrians. We found great interest in us by the Canadians and we felt that the lights were on us and the question was: Syrians, what did you come here to do? This question was of interest to me and my father. Then, by virtue of public relations and the nature of my volunteer work with the United Nations in Lebanon, I gained a good experience that helped me in how to build projects and facilitate the process of establishing and launching them.

What is happening in Syria has had a positive impact that the Syrians have gained extensive experience by integrating with other communities, adding to their experience and succeeded in their new homelands.

I started looking for access to finance launching the project, then I found that there was no need so the costs would not be too expensive and it is not important to start a big job at first. We secured raw materials and some modest supplies with the help of friends and started working from the kitchen of the house.

After that we prepared some chocolate and went to a social party in the city where a large number of people participated and each one presented his/her different serving plate. The chocolate we prepared left a positive echo at that ceremony and it was a very encouraging start. Since then I felt that the people of the city were all beside us. They had faith in new ideas and newcomers and that we would add something new to them.

 After that there was another activity in the city called “Winter Market” so we decided to participate and put a picture of my father on Facebook, carrying the chocolate and at the opening, my father went to the market at 8:30 am and found about 200 people waiting to buy chocolate !!

We felt then that we had a Canadian family that loved and supported us.Then we started to increase production from the kitchen of the house. The work was gradually increasing. I thought of moving from work in the kitchen to building a small workshop next to the house. We faced some legal problems because the area was residential, and the solution was to turn this workshop into a museum two years after it was built. 60 volunteers used to come after finishing their jobs to help us build the small lab.

In May, fires erupted in Fort McMurray, Alberta, and I saw people losing everything and leaving their homes because of these fires. I decided to donate all the profits to affected Canadians this month, so I encouraged Canadians to buy our products to donate their profits. At the same time, We donated to ensure more Syrian refugees. We doubled production at home and we worked day and night with the help of Canadians, some of whom came home to help us increase production.

The beginning of my story with Justin Trudeau

How did you start your story with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?

The big thing that helped us with Mr. Trudeau was the media activity that I worked on and the interviews I had with various media outlets, which came from my awareness of the importance of the media and the obvious interest of Canadians. Around 200 interviews were conducted with Canadian, American, foreign and Arab radio, television, and newspapers. On August 10, 2016, the small workshop was opened next to the house. The CBC broadcasted a video report on the opening and received more than 3 million views.

 The Prime Minister certainly was following this news and in September 2016 a friend called me and told me that Trudeau was talking about my family in his speech at the United Nations. I expected the story to be a joke, and I did not understand what was going on until I received another call from the CNN reporter who confirmed the news to me. Justin Trudeau spoke about my family and the Syrians about twenty minutes before the presidents of the world and his speech was horrific. I did not expect that our success story among the thousands of success stories would take this great spread. Personally, through my media interviews, I was trying to spread not only for the Hadhad family but also for all Syrians to assert that they were creative and able to support themselves. They give more than they take.

How did your father feel when you told him that Justin Trudeau talked about you at the United Nations?

Frankly, the feeling of the entire family was indescribable. We could not sleep for two days because of the joy and great attention we got. We are very proud to be the successful example of Trudeau at the United Nations and we have to continue this path. A month later we hired the first Canadian citizen in the small workshop and by the end of 2016 we hired ten Canadian employees.

There are dozens of success stories that have occurred in Canada and other countries where the Syrians are present.

 In your opinion, what was the main reason that Trudeau talked about your family specifically?

I think there are several factors, most notably, that our story seems integrated and was the best example in the light of the negative atmosphere that accompanied stories of many Syrians who resort to other countries of the world. Most of the countries of the world closed their doors to the Syrians and considered the refugees a curse on their countries. We were the actual translation of the saying that the Syrians are a blessing to the countries hosting them, not the other way around.

In addition to that I think kindness brings kindness, and hatred bring no other than hatred and. We met the kindness with which the Canadians treated us to be effective members of society so that we could repay them.

After Trudeau’s speech at the United Nations, there was a meeting between your family and him. How did that happen and what happened during the meeting?

I received a call from the Prime Minister’s office telling me that Trudeau wanted to meet me. I could only turned off the phone as a joke, but they sent me an email and then I checked and realized it was serious.

During the meeting between us, the prime minister became enthusiastic about our vision and said to us: You are the model and example for others. I am very proud of you and proud to mention your family name at the United Nations.

Our meeting with Trudeau was the spark of the beginning, and the snowball began to grow bigger step little by little. Five days before Christmas, we opened an electronic store. After about three hours of opening the store, I was surprised to find thousands of orders on the site. I had to close the store right away because the orders were far beyond the capacity of our production.

 What are your future plans after expanding your business?

We recently opened a large chocolate factory with about 25 employees, and its production will cover all of Canada and part of the United States. My plan now is to hire the Syrians in all the Canadian provinces to be agents for our company in their areas, and as Syrians, our aim is to be more active in the Canadian society.

The beginning of my story with Justin Trudeau

How did you start your story with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?

The big thing that helped us with Mr. Trudeau was the media activity that I worked on and the interviews I had with various media outlets, which came from my awareness of the importance of the media and the obvious interest of Canadians. Around 200 interviews were conducted with Canadian, American, foreign and Arab radio, television, and newspapers. On August 10, 2016, the small workshop was opened next to the house. The CBC broadcasted a video report on the opening and received more than 3 million views.

 The Prime Minister certainly was following this news and in September 2016 a friend called me and told me that Trudeau was talking about my family in his speech at the United Nations. I expected the story to be a joke, and I did not understand what was going on until I received another call from the CNN reporter who confirmed the news to me. Justin Trudeau spoke about my family and the Syrians about twenty minutes before the presidents of the world and his speech was horrific. I did not expect that our success story among the thousands of success stories would take this great spread. Personally, through my media interviews, I was trying to spread not only for the Hadhad family but also for all Syrians to assert that they were creative and able to support themselves. They give more than they take.

How did your father feel when you told him that Justin Trudeau talked about you at the United Nations?

Frankly, the feeling of the entire family was indescribable. We could not sleep for two days because of the joy and great attention we got. We are very proud to be the successful example of Trudeau at the United Nations and we have to continue this path. A month later we hired the first Canadian citizen in the small workshop and by the end of 2016 we hired ten Canadian employees.

There are dozens of success stories that have occurred in Canada and other countries where the Syrians are present.

 In your opinion, what was the main reason that Trudeau talked about your family specifically?

I think there are several factors, most notably, that our story seems integrated and was the best example in the light of the negative atmosphere that accompanied stories of many Syrians who resort to other countries of the world. Most of the countries of the world closed their doors to the Syrians and considered the refugees a curse on their countries. We were the actual translation of the saying that the Syrians are a blessing to the countries hosting them, not the other way around.

In addition to that I think kindness brings kindness, and hatred bring no other than hatred and. We met the kindness with which the Canadians treated us to be effective members of society so that we could repay them.

After Trudeau’s speech at the United Nations, there was a meeting between your family and him. How did that happen and what happened during the meeting?

I received a call from the Prime Minister’s office telling me that Trudeau wanted to meet me. I could only turned off the phone as a joke, but they sent me an email and then I checked and realized it was serious.

During the meeting between us, the prime minister became enthusiastic about our vision and said to us: You are the model and example for others. I am very proud of you and proud to mention your family name at the United Nations.

Our meeting with Trudeau was the spark of the beginning, and the snowball began to grow bigger step little by little. Five days before Christmas, we opened an electronic store. After about three hours of opening the store, I was surprised to find thousands of orders on the site. I had to close the store right away because the orders were far beyond the capacity of our production.

 What are your future plans after expanding your business?

We recently opened a large chocolate factory with about 25 employees, and its production will cover all of Canada and part of the United States. My plan now is to hire the Syrians in all the Canadian provinces to be agents for our company in their areas, and as Syrians, our aim is to be more active in the Canadian society.

Interviewed by kameel  Nasrawi                                              

Translated by moutaz Abu kalam

جريدة المهاجر the migrant
migrant
the authormigrant
‏‎Kamil Nasrawi‎‏

اترك رد