Snapshots from Helping a Syrian Family

Helping a Syrian family is…

Not knowing what to say when talking about Syria’s long and rich history and then an uncomfortable silence at realizing how many of its buildings and artifacts have been destroyed.

Taking extra blankets and space heaters to a family that feels the cold more acutely than we do.  Reassuring them that if they call, we will come and help. We are only ten minutes away.

Noticing tremendous generosity from people that do not have much themselves.

Holding back tears when you hear that a little girl asked her mother if she will have her own bed.  Or, when hearing a father describe some of the places they have lived as being places where you would not even keep a dog.

A child testing out some English words when he shows you a Minecraft toy sheep and horse and reads “more for less” at the grocery store.

Trying to navigate helping and at the same time understanding the frustration at feeling dependent.  Reassuring someone that it won’t be like this for long and they will be able to build their own life here.

Having a cup of tea together.

Answering your own children’s questions when they aren’t sure how to play with kids that don’t speak their language. Pointing out that a lot of the fun between them as siblings often involves lots of nonsense helps!

Showing a father which direction is East for his prayers.  Driving him to a mosque so that he knows prayer times in our city.

Recognizing strength of character.  Difficult decisions have been made while facing some very real dangers.

Smiling as you watch children have their first snow fight.

When asked by a school intake worker what they are looking forward to the most at school hearing answers such as “meeting my teacher” and “making friends”.

Big conversations with few words and a lot of emotion.  “I don’t like the term refugee”.  I can understand that.  “Do you?”.  I think so.

This is not a family of refugees anymore.

They are new Canadians.


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