Arabic counselling program to end after 2 successful years

June 12, 2018

When Gazele Hanna and her son immigrated to Canada as refugees, she thought she had left the horrors of death behind her. 

Now, as she sits alone in her living room, she holds a photo of her son and cries.

Montaser Anees died by suicide a little more than a year after he and his mother settled in Waterloo region. 

"She blames herself," said Aleya Hassan, translating for Hanna, who only speaks Arabic. "She feels like she is guilty because she didn't take all the signs seriously."

Red flags

Before he died, Anees spoke often about a desire to kill himself. His family doctor suggested he go to the hospital, but Hanna said the doctor didn't make it clear that the situation was urgent. 


"Nobody told her this is a red flag," Hassan said. "She wishes someone told her this."

Anees's death has become a marker in the tightly-knit refugee community — an example of what can go wrong and a reason for things to be done differently. 

In the year after he died, an Arabic counselling service run through K-W Counselling began to gain traction, attracting more than 200 clients.


But the counselling agency has recently announced that, in spite of its success, the program will end on June 30 due to lack of funding.

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