04/02/2017 16:37 EDT | Updated 04/03/2018 01:12 EDT

Giving back: Syrian group cooks meals for Halifax shelters

On Sundays, you can find Mohammed Al-Jokhadar and his wife Theresa in their tiny kitchen preparing big meals for people in need.

They're part of the newly formed Syrian Thanksgiving Group of Nova Scotia, an organization comprised mostly of Syrians who came here as refugees.

"They just wanted to say thank you to Canada for welcoming them and helping them in their lives," Al-Jokhadar said.

5 shelters benefiting this week

Of the 10 people cooking Sunday, eight are Syrian newcomers.

The meals are cooked at each family's home and then Al-Jokhadar then picks up the meals and drops them off to the shelters.

This Sunday, there are five stops including Metro Turning Point, Herring Cove Apartments, Adsum for Women & Children, Phoenix House and Phoenix House Youth Shelter.

'It feels nice to give back'

Al-Jokhadar prepared five treys if fatteh, a dish made with chickpeas, fried pita bread, tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, and ghee.

"It feels like we're really doing something that will help," said Al-Jokhadar. "It feels nice to give back instead of receiving all the help, because Syrian refugees know the meaning of poverty and pain and just living in terrible conditions.

"So we thought if people are living here in terrible conditions, we should help them."

Kathy McNab, fund development and communications officer at Adsum for Women & Children, said the organization is always grateful for help with meals. She said there can be as many as 18 people staying at the shelter at a time.

'It's always extremely welcomed'

"To have volunteers in our community help out, both coming into Adsum House and helping with the preparing of meals and having groups like the Syrian group coming with a meal that's prepared really helps us out," McNab said.

"Not just with our food budget, but also with the time it takes to prepare meals for the large group each day."

McNab said Adsum has many volunteers in the community who help with food regularly, but adds every bit received helps.

"It's always extremely welcomed even if it's last minute. Even if we don't know about it ahead of time, it can be put away for tomorrow's meal," she said.

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