B.C. Starbucks co-workers replace stolen bike for Iraqi teen seeking asylum

B.C. Starbucks co-workers replace stolen bike for Iraqi teen seeking asylum

An 18-year-old from Iraq was working at Starbucks when he learned his bike was stolen from the patio

A day that started off terribly after a teen’s bike was stolen during his Starbucks shift has had a happy ending after all.

A bike gifted to Abdalla Ahmed by his foster parents was recently stolen while he was working at the coffee shop.

The 18-year-old came to Canada just over one year ago when he crossed the border from the United States to seek asylum from Iraq. He’s been living in a foster home ever since and his parents gave him the bike so he could get around.

On Aug. 30, Ahmed rode his bike to the Starbucks at 20151 Fraser Hwy. – where he has worked as a barista since July.

He locked his bike outside on the patio railing just before starting his shift at 4:30 a.m.

A few hours later a colleague of Ahmed’s went outside to the patio to set up the tables and chairs and discovered his broken bike lock.

“I told [my colleagues] whoever stole it might need it more than me,” Ahmed said.

READ MORE: Aldergrove residents fear criminals getting ‘braver’

He said the bike belonged to his foster dad, who had it for several years.

“I was really sad about it because it was a gift from my foster parents,” Ahmed said. “I was really unhappy and sad, but I tried not to show it.”

Ahmed was scheduled to work until 10:30 a.m. on that Friday, but his manager Krystal Ackermans asked him to stay an extra half hour – for good reason.

Before the end of his shift Ahmed had a new bike waiting for him and a way to get home.

“The bike was just around the $270 mark,” said Ackermans. “The entire team donated their weekly tips and I paid the difference.”

Ahmed was emotional because he hasn’t been with the coffee shop for very long, but Ackermans said it was the “right decision to make.”

“I was in tears. I cried,” said Ahmed. “I never really expected that.”

Although Ahmed graduated high school earlier this year he marked this moment as a highlight.

“It was one of the best things to happen to me in 2019,” Ahmed smiled.

Meanwhile, Ahmed is hoping to hear more good news.

Ahmed is an asylum seeker and is currently waiting for a response from the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) in regards to his application.

Ahmed said he travelled to the United States in July 2018 with the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP), a four-week summer exchange program where students travel across the United States to learn about American culture and develop leadership and community skills, according to its website.

While on the trip Ahmed said he received a phone call where he learned his life would be in danger if he returned to Iraq.

When IYLEP concluded Ahmed ran away from the group.

He left the hotel in Washington, D.C. where the youth group was staying and made his way to a train station where he purchased a ticket to New York City.

Ahmed said that was a random decision he made because he was just trying to get away from the group.

“I stayed on the streets in New York City for (the) night,” he said, tearing up. “It was really sad, and I didn’t know anybody and I didn’t have anyone there.”

READ MORE: Asylum seekers will wait up to two years for refugee claims to be processed

The next morning Ahmed said he took a train to Seattle.

“I couldn’t go home, otherwise I wouldn’t be here and take all those risks and sleep on the streets and be on a train for four days and cross illegally… it was the only option I had at that time,” he said.

Once arriving in Seattle, Ahmed said he crossed into Canada at 0 Avenue and 184th Street where he was intercepted by border officers and taken in for questioning.

“I didn’t have any passport or documents of my own. My program staff took all [our] passports from us,” he said.

From there social workers accompanied Ahmed to a foster home in Langley. He was admitted into Langley Secondary School and graduated earlier this year.

“It was pretty hard in the beginning for me to adapt to all the change,” he said.

Ahmed left a family behind in Iraq.

“It was really hard for [my mom] to show her support… we really had a good connection,” he said. “She still sometimes cries when we video call.”

Ahmed’s original application to gain refugee status in Canada was denied, and he has now appealed the decision and is awaiting final word from the government.



joti.grewal@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Abdalla Ahmed at his Langley Secondary School graduation (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Abdalla Ahmed at his Langley Secondary School graduation (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Abdalla Ahmed with his new bike gifted to him by his colleagues at Starbucks. (Joti Grewal/Black Press Media)

Abdalla Ahmed with his new bike gifted to him by his colleagues at Starbucks. (Joti Grewal/Black Press Media)

Just Posted

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP locate driver and vehicle, but are asking for video footage

Students from AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni write anti-bullying messages and draw colourful chalk art around their school for national anti-bullying Pink Shirt Day, Feb. 24, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY LISA ARBANAS)
Chalk art brightens public walkway on Pink Shirt Day

Students from AW Neill Elementary in Port Alberni write messages of hope

Mary Mason of Owls Path Foundation presents plans for a Nuu-chah-nulth Cultural Centre to Port Alberni city council. The structure pictured in this image is the Copenhagen Opera House. (SCREENSHOT)
Nuu-chah-nulth cultural centre pitched for Port Alberni

Three possible locations put forward for multi-million-dollar centre

An endangered Vancouver Island marmot suns itself on rocks at Mount Washington, near the Comox Valley. Learn more about this endangered species with the Alberni Valley Nature Club. (PHOTO COURTESY SANDY MCRUER, AV NATURE CLUB)
Marmots, underwater mysteries part of Alberni Valley Nature Club lineup

Club kicks off membership drive with series of Zoom chats

The current exhibit at the Rollin Art Centre. The art gallery has COVID-19 protective measures in place. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
ARTS AROUND: Rollin Art Centre puts out a call to artists

Port Alberni’s Community Arts Council will hold a pandemic-inspired art exhibit

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

Most Read