On the morning of November 28, 2016, we joyfully welcomed Omar, Salwa and their seven
children at Trudeau Airport. Four years ago, they were forced to flee from their home in Syria, just three days after the birth of their youngest child. The family arrived eager to begin their new life in Montreal as quickly as possible, and our volunteer teams immediately launched into action.
Today, the family has been integrated into their new home, community and the health care system. The children have begun school and the adults are about to begin their French language program. Everyone has been fully outfitted for the winter cold and their apartment already looks like home with added touches they have chosen from many donations. It has taken a village to accomplish so much in so little time. Our volunteers are amazing. They deserve all praise!
On December 4, the family joined us for our Sunday service. While in Jordan, they had created a beautiful glass plaque of gratitude which they presented to the congregation. (The plaque is now on display in the cabinet in Phoenix Hall.) In response, we sang Come Sing a Song with Me: “And I'll bring you hope when hope is hard to find, and I'll bring a song of love, and a rose in the
wintertime." We then presented each family member with a freshly cut rose.
During a recent visit to their apartment, I noticed that Omar had hung three dried roses in display boxes above their couch in the living room. Curious, I asked him what they meant. ”Those are the roses you gave us!” he smiled. Tears came to my eyes. I hadn’t made the connection and now I stood there realizing how swiftly and significantly our bonds with this family are developing.
We have all been inspired by their love for each other, their cheerful laughter, their kind and
insistent hospitality and their incredible resilience. They, in turn, have spoken with much
admiration and gratitude for all the Unitarians they have gotten to know in this short time.
We now wait in anticipation for the arrival of the second family we are sponsoring. We remain in constant touch with them, and we are hopeful that they will arrive early in the new year.
I cannot express enough gratitude to all of you for making these sponsorships possible,
Rev. Diane Rollert
Refugee Task Force —Rev. Diane Rollert, David Rollert, John Inder, Marlean Martin