A few weeks after 19-year-old Rateb started working at Zazu Cafe in downtown Victoria, he put a Syrian soup, shurbat addes, on the menu. Selling the red lentil soup, spiced with cumin, to customers was a small way of tying his old life in Syria to his new one in Canada.
Rateb has been working part-time at the Blanshard Street café since March. The café’s owner, Tracey Higgins, is not just Rateb’s boss — right now, she’s the closest thing he has to a mother. Rateb, one of the few unaccompanied minors from Syria resettled on Vancouver Island, is living with Higgins and her husband, Mark, in their Fernwood home until subsidized housing can be found.
“She’s doing lots of stuff for me. She’s like a mom,” said Rateb. “I have somebody who can understand me.” The Times Colonist is not using Rateb’s last name to protect …
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