Her Water Broke En Route to New Life. She Told Nobody

Syrian mom holds off until family's safe arrival in Canada
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2017 12:04 PM CST

(Newser) – Ibtesam Alkarnake's water broke while traveling from a refugee camp in Jordan to her new home in Canada. But the Syrian refugee told no one, not even her husband and four children, reports the Edmonton Journal. It was "brute determination on the mom's part to have the baby in Canada," pastor Doug Doyle, who welcomed the family in Fort McMurray, Alberta, on Tuesday, tells the CBC. Perhaps Alkarnake feared her labor might prevent the trip, as so many other things had threatened to do. For one thing, some members of Doyle's Fort City Church were hesitant to sponsor a Syrian family when the idea was first proposed in 2015, says Doyle. Then a wildfire spread through Fort McMurray last year, destroying 2,400 buildings and forcing 90,000 people to evacuate.

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But the townhouse set aside for the Alkarnake family was spared by the fire, which allowed church members to realize that the refugees were "fleeing the flames of their city," Doyle says. So after the church raised $70,000, the Alkarnakes left a camp of 100,000 refugees in Jordan, spending about 24 hours in the air on three separate flights to get to their new home. Ibtesam kept quiet all the way. Ten hours after setting foot in Canada, she gave birth to a 6-pound baby boy. The Canadian government says about 40,000 Syrian refugees have been settled in Canada since November 2015, including 14,000 who were privately sponsored. About 12,500 Syrian refugees were accepted in the US in the fiscal year ending in September, per Pew Research. (Read more Syrian refugees stories.)

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