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The Heartwarming Moment A Reporter Is Reunited With A Syrian Family

BBC journalist Lyse Doucet met the Sabbagh family in Toronto, Canada, two years after filming them living in fear in Syria.

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While reporting on refugees in Canada @bbclysedoucet saw the Syrian family she met in 2014

Two years after filming a Syrian family in desperate circumstances in Damascus, BBC reporter Lyse Doucet was reunited with them in a park in Canada on Monday.

Doucet reported on the Sabbagh family in 2014, as they were living in fear amid the country's raging civil war.

This week, she spotted the family, who are now among the 30,000 Syrians who have been granted asylum in Canada, at a picnic organized in a Toronto park to help immigrants integrate with the local community.

Doucet told BuzzFeed News that one of the boys in the family, Mohammed, asked for her name at the picnic. She thought little of it, until he came back again, insisting she tell him.

"So I said Lyse. Then he and his two brothers and sisters, whom I had not spotted, screeched my name. Then we all realised what was happening. So they called out to their mother, Hannan, on the other side of the park. And we ran to find the youngest child.

"It was a tumult of emotion, a mixture of extraordinary happiness and relief – the last time I saw them in Syria they were about to be evicted from a shop where they’d been staying after their house was destroyed, they were destitute and fearful.

"I had just sent a message that morning to a friend in Beirut, Tima Khalil, who had helped them in Lebanon after they first fled Syria, and I asked if she knew where to find them. We had all lost contact.

"When happiness spills over it is so wonderful and precious. Happy endings have become so rare in Syria. It is truly heartwarming to see a lovely family get a second chance in life."

In 2014, Hannan's daughter, Daad, then 11, told Doucet: "I hate the future so much. We might live or die." She said she was haunted by the ghosts of friends who had died in the war.

Doucet was invited into the family's new home in Toronto and saw how their lives had changed.

Daad told Doucet that the bad dreams had gone and that she is hopeful for the future now. "In Syria, we didn't play basketball and football and baseball," she said. "And here we can all swim and play together."

"I see my future, like everything is happy. Now Canada is my country and my home."

Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Patrick Smith at

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