At one of our first meetings, a seasoned refugee sponsor came to talk with us about his experiences. In the face of our uncertainty about the path ahead, he told us that this process would affect our refugee family’s life, but it would enrich ours too, and change us in ways we can’t imagine.
My husband Tony and I have already begun to reap those very personal rewards. Last week, arriving at Pearson Airport after a twenty hour trip from Asia, jet lagged by 13 hours, we staggered to the taxi rank at 2 AM, just wanting to fall into bed and sleep for as long as possible. In the middle of the night, there was no queue and we got into the first cab waiting, and logged onto the internet after a long period off line. We were delighted to find that citizens had quickly funded the repairs needed for the mosque that was set on fire in Peterborough, and we chatted about this and about our excitement that the first member of our Syrian family was arriving soon.
Our driver, who wore the beard and white skull cap typical of Afghan or Pakistani Muslims, suddenly asked – who is arriving? And we told him a bit about ‘our’ family. Where are they coming from? We told him that they were in Lebanon, and how our Ripple Refugee group had worked to formally sponsor them to come to Canada. By this time we were approaching our neighbourhood. The cab driver, previously silent, quietly began a stream of “may god bless you – it is wonderful what you are doing – you are good people”. We nearly missed our turning, as he became more and more animated!
And before we left the vehicle, we talked a bit more, establishing a warm bond with someone we might barely have exchanged a word with on previous rides. He welcomed us back to our home in the best possible way, and we hope that we, too, reaffirmed his place in our city and our country. Ripples are spreading!
(By Beth Savan)