Ali Dali could not have imagined his life today, as he sailed somewhere between Turkey and Greece, praying he wouldn't drown along with 50 other Syrian refugees crammed into a boat meant to hold only 10.
That harrowing journey five years ago brought him to Canada for a better life. Ali is now entering his third year in the Mobile Applications Development program at St. Clair College and he is already receiving recognition in the world of mobile apps.
“I am trying to use the skills I’ve learned at the college and make good use of my time,” the 24-year-old student said. “I appreciate the opportunity I have.”
Ali spent the summer working as a freelance mobile app developer through Fiverr, an online marketplace that allows people to buy a digital service from freelancers.
He developed a very large app for a client in the United Kingdom, who left a glowing review that described Ali as “head and shoulders the best app designer/engineer on Fiverr.”
The customer had asked Ali to build an app, called TradeaTrade, which would be used to offer a service in exchange for another service, without exchanging money.
“I contacted a dozen app designers on Fiverr with my requirements,” the customer wrote in his review of Ali’s work. “Ali was the fastest to reply, the cheapest and he was the most professional.”
The app is now available to download on Google’s Play Store and will soon be launched on the App Store.
“It’s a creative job,” Ali said of developing mobile applications. “You have something new every day.”
He has developed other apps that are available on Play Store and the App Store, and he also finds the time to work as a tutor at St. Clair, helping other students in his program, which he describes as “amazing.”
Peter Nikita, the coordinator of the Mobile Applications Development program, described Ali as “one of the strongest developers in our program” despite the fact he started two years ago with no prior programming experience. “We are looking forward to what this young man will accomplish in year three of the program and beyond.”
Ali arrived in Canada in 2018 and joined his family in Windsor. He hadn’t seen them since the day he left Syria to escape the war.
He and a friend fled to Lebanon, then to Turkey and finally to Greece on that “scary” boat ride. From there, he had a 10-day journey through Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria, using cars, trains, buses and his feet for long distances, until he reached Germany and a refugee camp.
“When I was in Germany, I thought I would never see my family again,” Ali said.
But because he was under the age of 21, Ali was allowed into Canada to be reunited with his family. His mother, father and younger sister had arrived earlier to join an older brother and sister, who’d already settled in Windsor years earlier.
Ali is returning to St. Clair for his third and final year of studies, but he plans to continue his education down the road in the field of Artificial Intelligence.
“We are lucky to have a student such as Ali at St. Clair College,” said President Patti France. “Ali’s life has not been easy, but through his perseverance and dogged determination to live up to his potential, I have no doubt whatsoever that Ali will find success in his chosen field.
“Students like Ali personify our school’s official motto, Optimum Elige, which means Choose The Best.”