It wasn’t the reunion we expected. When Colin and I visited my Syrian family in Aleppo 8 years ago, after having rowed our boats and ridden our bikes from Scotland to get there, we thought we would return a few years later on our Olive Odyssey journey. But by the time we launched our sailboat in the Mediterranean to explore the origins of the olive tree, Syria’s conflict had already started. In the years since it has grown into a catastrophic humanitarian crisis and many of the places we strolled have been reduced to rubble, including my family’s apartment where we stayed. My uncle, aunt and three cousins fled Syria and have been living as refugees in Turkey for the last year. Yesterday, they arrived in Canada and were welcomed by our country as permanent residents.
It was an incredible moment seeing them in the airport. Hugging them, knowing they were safe, understanding how much they had been through and that they now have the same opportunities as any other Canadian. We cried, all of us.
Their presence here is thanks to the 16 people in our sponsorship group who have worked tirelessly to fundraise, complete the required paperwork, prepare a furnished apartment for their arrival, and so much more. I am eternally grateful to this amazing group of selfless people who have given so much to a family they only now will get to know. Thank you.