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GCSE reading: a Syrian refugee family finds a home in Belgium

This is a text with exercises from frenchteacher.net.

Help yourself if you think it would be useful with your classes. It would suit students aiming for higher tier and could be exploited in a range of ways.


Une famille syrienne réfugiée en Belgique

Le journal DH a rencontré la première citoyenne belge qui héberge des réfugiés dans sa maison, à Schaerbeek en Belgique.

Arrivée il y a deux semaines après un voyage très difficile de deux mois, la famille Mezrab a trouvé refuge chez Marcelle Bennick, une retraité de 73 ans. Elle habite toute seule et elle possède un appartement vide et meublé de 15 m2. Elle raconte : "J’ai pensé que, vu la crise des réfugiés que nous vivons en ce moment, je pourrais héberger une famille de réfugiés. Du coup, ils habitent en bas et moi à l’étage."

Marcelle était la première Belge inscrite sur le listing des citoyens qui acceptent d’héberger des réfugiés. Une première rencontre a été arrangée, un traducteur présent. Marcelle a tout de suite aimé la famille. "Je leur ai dit qu’ils pouvaient venir chez moi quand ils voulaient, d’autant que les centres d’accueil ne sont pas agréables", dit Marcelle.

Latifa et Abderazak sont alors arrivés en Belgique avec leurs trois enfants Farah, Ahmed et Hala, âgés de 6 à 10 ans. Latifa raconte : "Nous avions une vie confortable en Syrie, jusqu’au commencement de la guerre. Nous habitions à Alep, une ville qui a été dévastée par la guerre. Nous n’avons pas eu d’autre choix que de partir. Notre maison et notre voiture ont été détruites, nous n’avions plus rien ! Mon mari a été obligé à quitter son métier de menuisier et aujourd’hui nous sommes en Belgique chez Marcelle. Les Belges sont admirables, on est très reconnaissant de leur accueil chaleureux."

Pendant que les trois enfants jouent et rigolent, Latifa explique son voyage dangereux vers la Belgique. "Nous avons traversé neuf pays dans des conditions souvent inhumaines. Nous avons dépensé environ 9.000 € pour un voyage qui a duré deux mois. Nous avons connu beaucoup de dangers et avons utilisé différents modes de transport : des bus, une voiture, de la marche à pied et du bateau. Notre bateau, remplie de réfugiés, a presque coulé mais par chance nous avons survécu."

Depuis leur arrivée, un lien d’amitié très fort s’est construit entre la famille et Marcelle. "Notre cohabitation se passe merveilleusement bien", explique Marcelle, "les premiers jours, je cuisinais, et un soir Latifa m’a proposé de m’aider. Elle nous a préparé un excellent plat syrien", dit Marcelle, qui encourage tous les Belges d’accueillir des réfugiés.

"Ces gens sont comme nous. Ils avaient une maison, une voiture, un métier. Personnellement, j’ai connu la guerre quand j’étais enfant. Aujourd’hui en Belgique, nous sommes nés au bon endroit au bon moment, mais il faut penser à ce que l’on aurait pu être. On aurait pu, nous aussi, se retrouver sur la route. Ne l’oublions jamais", dit Marcelle qui espère que Latifa et Abderazak pourront facilement s’insérer dans la société belge.

A. Vocabulaire

to meet – r________​​​​citizen (female) – c___________ (f)
pensioner, senior citizen - _________ (m)​unused and furnished – v____ et ______
crisis - ______ (f)​​​​to put up, lodge – h__________
and so - _- ____​​​​downstairs - __ ___
upstairs - _ _’______​​​​translator – t___________ (m)
especially as – d’______ ___​​reception centre - _____ d’______ (m)
war – g_____ (f)​​​​destroyed – d________
grateful – r_____________​​​welcome – a_______ (m)
warm – c_____________​​​to laugh – r________
to cross – t_________​​​to spend – d________
filled with – r_____ __​​​nearly – p______
to sink – c_______​​​​to survive (infinitive) - s________
bond of friendship – l___ (m) d’_______​to cook – c_________
job – m______ (m)​​​​place – e______ (m)
we could have – o_ _____ __​​to forget – o_________

B. Corrigez ces phrases fausses

1.​Marcelle est de nationalité française.
2.​La famille syrienne est arrivée la semaine dernière.
3.​Leur voyage de Syrie a duré deux semaines.
4.​Marcelle possède une maison vide.
5.​La famille syrienne habite à l’étage.
6.​Marcelle pense que les centres d’accueil sont excellents.
7.​Il y deux enfants dans la famille.
8.​La famille est originaire de Damas (Damascus) en Syrie.
9.​Ils étaient pauvres (poor) en Syrie.
10.​Leur maison reste intacte en Syrie.
11.​Le voyage à travers l’Europe était facile.
12.​Ils n’ont pas marché pendant le voyage.
13.​Marcelle et la famille s’entendent avec difficulté.
14.​Latifa ne cuisine jamais.
15.​Marcelle n’a jamais connu la guerre.

C. Explain to a partner in English what this article is all about. Give as much detail as possible.

D. Translate into English the last two paragraphs. Make it read as naturally as possible in English.


Based on information in an article from dhnet.be


Model translation

Since their arrival, a strong bond of friendship has formed between the family and Marcelle. “Living together is going amazingly well,” explains Marcelle. “For the first few days I did the cooking, and one evening Latifa offered to help me. She made us an excellent Syrian meal,” says Marcelle, who encourages all Belgians to welcome in refugees.

“These people are like us. They had a house, a car, a job. Personally, I have known war when I was a child. Today in Belgium we were born in the right place at the right time, but you have to think of what might have been. We could have also been on the road. Let’s never forget that,” says Marcelle, who hopes that Latifa and Abderazak will fit in easily to Belgian society.


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