Mohamad Almaidani arrived in Corner Brook just over two and half years ago in February 2016, a Syrian refugee with an uncertain future.
This week he realized a goal he had set for himself when he opened Mo’s Corner Barbershop on Broadway.
“I left my country because of war,” he said, adding he had been living in Jordan with his family, wife Marwa Alzoubi and sons, Owais, 6, and Laith, 4, before coming to Corner Brook.
The family was sponsored by the parish community of St. John the Evangelist Anglican Cathedral.
“Those people they support me a lot. That’s why I’m here now,” he said. “If I didn’t have that support I would not be here.”
And he offers a lot of the credit to Dean Baxter Park, who spearheaded the effort to bring Almaidani and his family to the city.
Park has since retired as dean of the cathedral and moved to Ontario, but Almaidani has nothing but kind words for him.
“I miss him a lot.”
But there are still people from the church community, like Ruth Squires, who continue to play a big role in his family’s life.
“When I came I here I have no skills with English and I only had 300 bucks. Nothing, right, nothing.”
Needless to say, he experienced culture shock, especially with the climate and the language.
“It’s very difficult to change everything. The first six months I was disappointed, but after six months I got used to everything. Everything is OK now.”
Both Almaidani and his wife have made great strides with learning English and their sons have adjusted well and have made friends.
Shortly after arriving in the city Almaidani started working as a barber at Silver Scissors. He later moved to Bob’s Barber Shop and was at Chatters before opening his own shop.
“They helped me a lot,” he said and again expressed thanks, something he believes is right to do, to the people he’s worked with.
Working at the other locations has enabled him to get his name out there and to build a client base.
“Own my shop,” he said with a big smile. “That was my goal.
“It’s good when you own your shop, to be owner yourself.”
And he’s very optimistic about the future.
“I have a plan.”
He wants to improve on the services he offers and train others — just like he was trained by his older brother when he was 14 — to work with him.
Almaidani opened his shop on Sunday, but the regular hours will be Monday to Saturday. He’ll be providing men’s’ haircuts, beard trims and shaving, kids’ haircuts and threading. He hopes to soon add a full grooming service to the list of services.