In the last few years after the Syrian Crisis, there was an urgent need to get Syrian refugees settled after they arrived in Canada. A local church adopted a Syrian family with three generations, including grandparents, adult children, and young grandchildren. The church paid to house them for a year, and at the end they held a huge concert fundraiser to get the family more settled, and ready to survive on their own.
Our volunteer orchestra was asked to play a concert for them as part of that fundraiser, and we gladly did that. The family sat in the front row and after we played several pieces. One of the sons who spoke the most English got up to explain to the audience how they had escaped and fled from their homeland. As he told the details, the grandmother put her head in her hands and her shoulders shook in sobs. It had to be very difficult for her to hear all the hardships over again.
When the son finished, and the audience got up to bid on silent auction items at the back of the church. The orchestra also got up and began putting their instruments away. The Syrian family sat there silently and nobody talked to them – of course, we couldn’t really communicate, as most of them did not yet speak English. I saw them sitting there, and just went over to the grandmother and hugged her and said, “Welcome, welcome.”
She hugged me back and then the whole family came around and we had a huge group hug. I was surprised but glad that I had not done something that would offend them. It was a very special moment that I will never forget. I wish I knew how they were doing now – they were so special. We can only imagine what hardships they have endured, but one thing we can do is to let them know they are welcome.
Joanne lives in McCauley.