An online fundraiser has been established in the wake of a fatal house fire in Spryfield.
Seven children were killed in the early Tuesday morning fire on Quartz Dr. Their parents, identified as Ebraheim and Kawthar Barho, were taken to hospital and Ebraheim's injuries are life-threatening.
According to a post on the Hants East Assisting Refugees Team Society (HEART Society) Facebook page, they sponsored the Barho family to bring them to Canada.
The Barhos arrived in Sept. 2017.
Imam Abdallah Yousri of the Ummah Mosque and Community Centre told the Canadian Press the family was from Raqqa, Syria, and originally settled in Elmsdale but moved to the Governor's Brook neighbourhood about 3 months ago.
However, the HEART Society says the Barhos missed their community in East Hants and were planning to move back.
"For the past year and a half, the children have been able to enjoy life as kids should be able to: going to school, riding bicycles, swimming, having friends, running in the yard, celebrating birthday parties and hanging out with the neighbours on their porch swing," said the Facebook post. "They loved every minute of it, and it seems impossible we won’t hear their laughter and feel their hugs again. "
The children's identities have not been confirmed by authorities, however a post on the Ummah Masjid and Community Center's Facebook page says the victims are:
- Abdullah, he was only 4 months old
- Rana, she was 3 years old
- Hala, she was 4 years old
- Ghala, she was 8 years old
- Mohammed, he was 10 years old
- Rola, she was 12 years old
- Ahmed, he was 15 years old
A GoFundMe page has been set up by family friends, including the Imam Council of Halifax and in cooperation with the HEART Society, to help pay for expected expenses.
Imam Wael Haridy of the Nova Scotia Islamic Community Centre spent the day at the hospital with the mother, Kawthar Barho.
"She's alone. She lost seven kids ... her mother and father are in Syria. She wanted her family, she wanted the support of her mother and father," he said.
"Her mother called her and she was crying telling her mom 'I lost all of my kids mom. We escaped the war and tragedy in Syria to come here to die.'"
Haridy said he's hoping they will be able to fly Kawthar's parents to Halifax so they can be with her.
Two of the children went to Central Spryfield Elementary and two were students at Rockingstone Heights.
Halifax Regional Centre for Education spokesperson Doug Hadley said it's been a "tremendously difficult day" at both schools.
"We have additional staff in place at both schools to provide support to students," Hadley said in an emailed statement. "They will provide support on site for as long as necessary."
Mayor Mike Savage, who is currently out of the country, took to Twitter to address the tragedy.
"Our entire municipality is heartbroken and our thoughts are with the loved ones of the family," he posted.
Councillor for the Spryfield area, Steve Adams, said he's devastated.
"This is one of the most horrible tragedies our community has seen, if not the most," he said.
Adams says he's already been flooded with calls and emails from people wondering what they can do to help.
"I can't say enough good about how we come together in a time of need. We don't need direction from anyone it just happens," he added.
"We'll see what we can do to support the family, the Syrian community, our community and our first responders, the fire and police that were on site. It must have been a terrible event for them."