Syrian family welcomed to Milton Keynes by new ‘buddies’

Bassem Al Haj and his wife Maisaa El Saadi have been welcome to Milton Keynes after fleeing Syria by Marie Grace and her children
Bassem Al Haj and his wife Maisaa El Saadi have been welcome to Milton Keynes after fleeing Syria by Marie Grace and her children

A family who fled the Syrian Civil War have thanked the MK family who have helped them to settle in the city.

Bassem Al Haj and his wife Maisaa El Saadi knew very little about the country that would become their new home, but what they did know was that their four children would finally be safe.

Now with a fifth child added to the clan, they are settling into MK having arrived in April 2016.

And that is largely down to Marie Gracie and her family, who have acted as ‘buddies’ ever since they arrived.

Marie is a volunteer of the Refugees Welcome Milton Keynes (RWMK) group, who along with MK Council and British Red Cross, prepared for their arrival and welcomed them to the airport with the words ‘you’re safe now’.

The support of Marie and her family has certainly made a huge impact on Bassem and Maisaa.

Maisaa said: “When I first met Marie I knew she was a kind and lovely person.

“When you have to leave your family and friends behind it is terrible, but in a way, Marie is filling the gap.

“I call her ‘mum’. That is the greatest respect I can give her. I really appreciate what she does for us all.”

Although apprehensive at first, Marie admitted it seemed like a ‘good fit’, as the families shared children of similar ages.

Marie said: “It’s certainly not been easy, but it’s clear that they want to integrate and make a positive contribution to their new community.