March has been a busy month for Or Shalom, but one full of moments to celebrate.
OSSRI Update – Family of five arrives safely in Vancouver
After a long journey from a refugee camp in northern Iraq, a Syrian Kurdish couple and their three children arrived safely at Vancouver International Airport Thursday afternoon. It was a moment of pure joy and profound relief not just for the family, but also for the OSSRI volunteers who greeted them with hugs, warmth, big Canadian smiles, a welcome poster, balloons and small welcome gifts.
Sue Comay, who was one of the many volunteers at the airport to greet the family, said there wasn’t a dry eye in the group as Andra had an emotional reunion with her cousin Zouzan and other family members.
“Adnan was clearly overwhelmed and wiping away his tears, too. The three boys were all smiles and were thrilled with their welcome bags and balloons,” says Sue. “It was a deep moment and so moving to be there after the long anticipation. I kept wondering about all of their first impressions and emotions as they stepped into this new life or was it too overwhelming at the time for them to feel anything at all? The cousin’s ability to speak English is a huge asset and will no doubt be a great help both in their settling and to all of us to be able to communicate with the family through her.”
Volunteer Maurice Bloch shared these thoughts about being at the airport to welcome the family.
“The mutual embracing of the family members was one of those moments when time stands still. It’s the opposite of a traumatic experience but similar in that time stands still for a moment and the memory remains etched in the psyche forever,” says Maurice. “I felt privileged to be part of a team which has made this arrival possible for this family. We have given these five members of our human family a new opportunity for a good life while they have surely and unknowingly enriched ours immeasurably.”
After collecting their luggage, mum, dad and the kids were taken to their new Canadian home for what we hope was a good night’s sleep.
Two more families are scheduled to arrive by April 1. Stay tuned for more details.
Thank you to everyone who has helped make this happen.
United in Compassion – Multifaith Devotional Service
On March 7th, over 20 faith leaders and upwards of 130 participants joined together in a moving evening of sacred chant, song, and sentiment. With representatives of Judaism, Sunni and Shia Islam, Universal Sufism, Christianity, Baha’i, Universal Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Zen Buddhism, and more, we built a space of unity and connection. After the devotional service, participants continued their collaboration and exploration of each other through round-table conversations and desserts. It was an evening to be remembered and cherished by all those who attended, bringing precious hope and light into our world.
We thank all that came to lend their presence to this evening of connection, with special thanks to the organizing committee, and the EMU of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster for co-hosting this event.