Today was different. I was supposed to deliver a playpen and some beginner school books to the Association for New Canadians, an organization that helps immigrants when they come to Canada. They help find jobs, helps with English as a Second Language classes, help with learning the culture, language, dealing with the cold winter day and nights, etc. The ANC is a great organization and I enjoy helping them out when I can.
Anyways, I wound up making a wrong turn and went to the wrong building. At this place, I met Nazir, Fatima and their beautiful children. They were fresh off the plane from Syria. Refugees who did not speak English (Nazir spoke a little bit). And me, I spoke no Arabic at all. Through gestures, broken English and pictures, I realized this family needed the playpen for their youngest child as they had no crib for him to sleep in. I was about to leave when Nazir said “stay for tea”. So I checked my watch and said yes I have time. Well, tea was not a cup of tea, it was their lunch. They had very little and they wanted to share it with me. We laughed at the children playing, and they told me they were very happy to be here. Nazir told me they were going to school to learn English and he was nervous because he hasn’t been to school in a long time. He said his children have not been in school for 2 years. I thought, you have been homeless for 2 years, not knowing if you will survive and you are nervous about school?. Fatima and I, although we didn’t speak the same language, we spoke the language of motherhood and we had a lot in common (the ages of our kids for one). After we finished eating, I thanked them for sharing their meal with me and I left feeling shaken.
I can’t imagine what they went through in trying to get to a safe place. They are very brave and I don’t know if I could leave my home and go somewhere where I didn’t know the language, my children didn’t know the language, a place where it snows and it is very cold in the winter, but then I think they are safe here. Their children are safe. I just wish I could do more for them.
Nazir and Fatima, we may never meet again but know that although you were not born here in Canada, it is your home. To all immigrants and refugees: Welcome to Canada, Bienvenue au Canada, Marhabann Bikum fi Kanada and Welcome Home.