NSIIP News

Syrian refugees benefit from driving test in Arabic

June 28, 2016

CBC News | New Brunswick also allows translator on road test to help ease transition for newcomers to province.

Mahmud Kahwaji passed his road test on Monday in Sussex in his second attempt.

“I am very happy,” said the Syrian refugee.

Kahwaji said he would usually call other people when he wanted to go somewhere but now he can travel alone.

Zakaria Al Sabagh is another refugee and also passed his road test Monday.

“I need to get a car now and take my family touring to see Canada everywhere and I need to find a job,” said Al Sabagh. “I need to start again with my life.”

Kahwaji and Al Sabagh are two of several Syrian refugees who already have licences despite not fully learning English yet.

The province offers the written test translated in Arabic and allows a translator during the road test.

The decision to offer the tests in Arabic was made in December by the province.

“The changes were made to help ease the transition for this group,” said Paul Bradley, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety in an email.

“These changes have not been made permanent, and we will continue to review the need for this undertaking,”

Abdul Kareem Hamawi got his licence 11 days ago and has since been helping other refugees by driving them places. He is also offering help to those trying to get a licence of their own.

“Anybody from Syria that wants to have a licence I will help since I have experience. Of course I will. Why not?” said Hamawi.

Hamawi was in Sussex helping Kahwaji pass his road test.

Mike Timani, the president of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council, said the translator helps those refugees who are not able to understand the questions and makes it easier for them to get their licence.

It’s all part of integrating the newcomers, said Timani.

“The most important part is integration and retention,” said Timani. “To do this you have to have easy access to different services.

“In this case, individuals such as Syrians right now, what they are looking for is jobs – what it is to make things simpler for them on day-to-day basis,” said Timani.

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