This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada, which closed in 2021.

Refugee Teen Receives Laptop From Anonymous Donor Following HuffPost Story

Aya Abou Rshd’s schooling was cut off first by civil war, and then the pandemic.
Aya Abou Rshd poses with her new laptop.
Aya Abou Rshd poses with her new laptop.

Two laptops present new hope and opportunities to an Ottawa teen whose story was shared by HuffPost Canada.

Aya Abou Rshd and her siblings’ schooling was disrupted by the Syrian civil war, persecution from Lebanese authorities and now the global COVID-19 pandemic. But things will be a bit easier for their new life in Canada after an anonymous donor came forward and donated two brand new laptops to Aya and her family after reading about their story in HuffPost.

Aya’s schooling in Syria was cut off in Grade 4 when civil war broke out in 2011. After years of uncertainty, including fleeing to Lebanon, the now 18-year-old and her family made their way as refugees to Ottawa, where they settled into a new routine of school and Canadian life, in September 2019.

However, when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in March, school shifted online for students around the world, including Aya and her three siblings, presenting new challenges for families like the Abou Rshds because they didn’t have access to laptops or tablets.

The kids have used borrowed laptops since moving to online schooling. But thanks to the new computers, they’ll be able to stay connected even after the loaner laptops are returned.

WATCH: Ontario school reopening plan coming this week. Story continues below.

The donor, who prefers to remain anonymous, say’s he’s worked from home for many years and knows how important it is to be connected, so he decided to “pay it forward.”

“I have no frame of reference for what that family has had to endure,” he told HuffPost in an email. “I wish it could do more, but I know how important it is for everyone to be connected these days for school, family and when looking for work.”

The donor sent two laptops to the Abou Rshd family — one for Aya and one for the rest of the family to use.

Journalist Judy Trinh, who first shared Aya’s story for New Canadian Media and HuffPost, said she was really touched by the donation and it was “lovely” to see the joy and excitement on Aya’s face.

“This computer gift is such a thoughtful and wonderful tool that will reap a lot of benefits,” Trinh said. “She is the eldest daughter and of the children she has the best English skills. She cares about school and even with online learning she was diligently trying to catch up on all her assignments. Then she would help her younger siblings with their reading work and help her dad apply for jobs.”

Trinh said that as a former refugee herself, she knows how empowering a gift like this can be for someone like Aya, who dreams of being a journalist one day.

“This means you’re not only welcomed in your new home — but that someone believes in your potential,” she said.

Popular in the Community

This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada. Certain site features have been disabled. If you have questions or concerns, please check our FAQ or contact