This will be quick, because it's late at night, and it's been a long day: our sponsored family arrived in Canada this afternoon, and are now at home in their new apartment. A long day for us, but a much longer one for them, waking up in Lebanon and traveling through Jordan and then on to Toronto, a city they had never imagined living in, a city whose name they were just learning to pronounce. We are working on the old Torontonian thing of taking it down to 2 syllables: "Tranna". Tomorrow we can work on the new Torontonian thing of calling it the 6. (And the winner in the category "Best name of a Canadian refugee Sponsorship Group" is: Syria to the 6.)
We found out that they were coming only two days ago, on December 24th, with a phone call from Malton Neighborhood Services, a community agency under contract with the Canadian government. Room for More had sworn a vow in advance to keep the arrival time a group secret, to shield the family from media attention on first arrival, and it seems in the spirit of that we shouldn't post a photo of them now (maybe later, if they are OK with it). It's too bad, because the photo would look so good -- those kids! They were amazingly alert, despite having been awake for maybe 24 hours at this point, and while we were waiting for a luggage mess to sort itself out we all laughed over the moments when the Google Translate app got too creative on us. We went back to the words we knew, and they said "thank you" a lot.
We at Room for More also need to say "thank you" to all our supporters -- thanks for taking the idea of sponsorship and making it real, for this very particular and deserving family, thanks for getting them out of the crossfire of war, and away from a very precarious life in exile. They are now officially permanent residents of Canada, eligible for citizenship in four years. They have a full fridge, a lot of coats and scarves, and the first day of school marked on their wall calendar (January 4th, and the youngest child immediately counted how many days away that would be).
Room for More will meet soon after that first day of school to plan our next steps in helping this family, and to talk about using our resources to do more for other refugees. We'll keep you posted on what happens.