“Do you need us to show you the way back to your house?” Our Syrian refugee family looks at us like we have lost our wits. At the end of our picnic on this bright, sunny day at a Calgary park we wonder if they may need our help navigating home.
“We drove here.”
Yes that is true. They have indeed.
The exchange is a poster moment of what is possible in 18 months. From a handful of English words and a bundle of clothes at a Canadian airport to fully self sufficient. This Syrian family models what courage, hard work, determination and love can achieve when given an opportunity.
Over the past year and a half we have shared with you the journey of this family of five. From war torn Syria, to refugee camp in Jordan for almost three years, to Canada. As part of a privately sponsored initiative, this Syrian refugee family found their way to Canada and into our hearts.
Arriving in the middle of winter to an unknown living situation they put all faith in our group of sponsors. When we think of us facing such challenges we can not fathom the courage.
This day at the park in Calgary, as the children laugh and play by the river, we hear about our friends’ new neighbours. Another Syrian refugee family has come to Canada and is living a few doors away.
“I told their sponsors that I can help translate any time.” relays Mom from our family. “I also know the stores where the best prices for food are and I told them about our bank that doesn’t charge any fees for refugees.”
The proud lump in my throat requires several swallows as the description continues of helping this new refugee family.
“They must be so grateful to have you close by.” I manage to squeak out hoping she doesn’t notice my happy tears.
“Oh yes they thought there wouldn’t be anyone who didn’t speak English in Canada.”
This Syrian refugee family’s path has come full circle. From completely dependent to self sufficient and paying it forward to other refugees. Life is not without challenges as it is for many living in our city. Housing costs are high. Juggling English classes, work schedules and caring for children and their activities, these are common Canadian family concerns.
As a helicopter flies overhead Dad says, “If we were in Syria we would be running.”
Dave and I glance at each other thinking we are missing something in the translation.
“What do you mean?”
“In Syria we would look for a basement to hide if we could. To hide from the bomb.”
The helicopter is checking that everyone is safe on the river. We ask if the sound of the helicopter scares them.
“No we are safe in Canada.”
Yes dear friends you are.
“What is at stake is nothing less than the survival and well-being of a generation of innocents.” ~ Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
With many thanks to you our kind readers for your support and encouragement in support of this family. This will be our final update. We are truly thrilled to report a happy ending for this Syrian refugee family.