Family physician Dr. Ali Al-Khafaji's journey to Canada-and the Carlyle Primary Health Clinic- was not an easy one, but Carlyle's newest doctor says he is grateful for the warm welcome he has received from the town.
The husband and father of three knew that he would be arriving in Carlyle on Thanksgiving Day in advance of his first day of work at the clinic on Oct. 14.
“I emailed Hugette [Lutz] from the town and said I would just stay in the hotel and that way, I wouldn't be disturbing anyone who was gathering with their family for Thanksgiving. It's a very important day to be with your family. However, I got an email back, saying, 'No, Dr. Ali,' and when I arrived, I called the number I was given, and I was taken to the house right away.”
“I certainly didn't expect that and to me, that shows what a welcoming community this is,” he adds. “That someone would come and do that for me on Thanksgiving Day, it is really appreciated.”
Dr. Ali's appreciation of family togetherness comes firsthand, as his wife, dermatologist and family physician, Dr. Uroba Al-Safi and his three children, daughters Enass, 12 and Sarah, 6 and son Hussain, 11 reside at the family's home in Mississauga, Ontario, where Dr. Al-Safi is currently in the process of obtaining her Canadian medical certification.
Dr. Ali was born and raised in Iraq and received both his undergraduate and medical degrees at university in Baghdad. He and his wife spent 10 years practising medicine in Oman before coming to Canada.
The family visited Canada in 2010, as part of beginning the arduous process of becoming Canadian physicians and Canadian citizens. After a 10-day visit to Toronto from Oman, they decided that Canada was definitely the place for them.
“We were searching for a home country,” says Dr. Ali. “A place where we could have a good life with a good future for our kids and ourselves.”
“We bought a house in Mississauga and were planning to live forever in Ontario.”
However, in order to both meet immigration requirements-as well as obtaining his medical certification enabling him to practice in Canada- Dr. Ali was required to spend time away from his family back in Oman, with only occasional trips to Ontario.
“For almost two years, I was away from my family. It was very difficult.”
“I am very happy to be in this practice, even though I am away from my family. Everyone here has been very welcoming, Kathy (Dr. Meyer), the girls in the clinic, the doctors in Arcola. They are all very nice and very supportive. This seems like a very good community.”
As a result of Dr. Ali's arrival, the Carlyle Primary Health Clinic will now be open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays. The clinic can be reached by calling 453-6795.