A pair of families fleeing violence in Syria arrived in Winnipeg on Saturday prepared to begin new lives in their new home.

Several people from the small town of Altona were on hand at James Richardson International Airport to welcome the Daas family of nine, who will join their community after living in a refugee camp in Lebanon for the last year.

Through a translator, members of the family said they were happy to be in Canada and grateful for all the support they are receiving.

It was a particularly special day for Ali Daas, 14, who received a soccer ball from Suzanne Klippenstein as a present, since the family’s arrival coincided with his birthday.

“I researched and found that soccer is an important part of their culture, so that’s how I picked the soccer ball,” said Klippenstein. “And I brought a few stuffies for his younger brother.”

Altona is preparing to welcome a total of five families fleeing violence in Syria and about 200 people in the town of 4,000 have contributed time and money to help bring them over and get them settled.

They’ve established a working group they call Build a Village to get everything organized for the privately-sponsored refugees.

“The last couple of weeks have been really busy, first of all trying to find homes for the families,” said Ray Loewen of Build a Village. “In the last couple of days things have just come together.”

The Daas family will move into a fully-furnished house in Altona immediately thanks to donations from the community.

Also on the flight from Toronto were the Albakar family of eight, who are government-sponsored refugees.

They have also been living in Lebanon after fleeing the violence in Syria.

Yaser Albakar worked as a baker in his homeland before he says it became too dangerous for his family to stay there.

His 12-year-old daughter Elham Albakar has a brain condition that has made mobility difficult for her.

Yaser Albakar says she was receiving treatment and physiotherapy in Syria prior to the war but that ended once the family fled to Lebanon.

He hopes now that they are in Canada Elham can resume her treatments and her condition will improve.

A group of indigenous drummers was on hand at the airport to greet the families and welcome them home.

Once they had collected their luggage the new Manitobans made their way outside into a wind chill that made it feel like -21 degrees Celsius as they set out to begin their new lives.