Sunday, November 20, 2016

Celebrating what we have here

As November creeps on, the days are getting darker.  News feeds are crowded with stories of the continuing disaster in Syria and storm clouds closer to home, and it's hard to see how to respond.  I've been walking around Toronto thinking about how lucky we are to live here, and how much the vibrancy of our city depends on the newcomers who have come from all over the world to live here, with newcomers now making up half the city's population. Half of our sponsorship group, too: Room for More includes members who have come to Canada from Poland, Lebanon, Brazil, Pakistan and the United States, alongside Canadians from Toronto, the East and West Coasts, and Saskatchewan. Private sponsorship has the benefit of bringing us into close contact with each other, and with "our" new family from Syria.  It has also had the benefit of bringing us into contact with Syrian food, which is, quite frankly, amazing.
Syrian brunch prepared by Newcomer Kitchen (where the mom in our family works part-time)

The hospitality at our new family's place is always warm, and involves a crazy number of dishes.  We are also getting to know something of the music (I don't know about the other group members, but it's been a new world for me listening to whatever the teens have on their phones when I am driving them somewhere).

The Oud - a Syrian lute

The news media has focused quite a bit on what our newcomers are getting in Canada, but our group wanted to take one night to celebrate what they are giving. On Saturday, December 3, Room for More is hosting an Evening of Syrian Food and Music at a group member's home. We'll be cooking with members of our sponsored family, and we'll have traditional live Syrian music, played on the bozok, which is an oud-like instrument so obscure I can't find a picture of it (or maybe I'm transliterating wrong?).  Anyway, our musican is Esmaeel Abou Fakher, and he is without question the most amazing bozok player we've ever heard... .

The evening is also a fundraiser for the new families who are coming in: a couple with three young children, now 9, 7 and 4, and a couple with an 18-month old toddler. They will arrive by January or February of 2017, we are told, and if you'd like to help us support them, our donations link is here. Also, if you'd like to come out to the party, email us at and let us know -- we'd love to celebrate with you, as long as there is room for more (but the house only fits so many, so let us know earlier rather than later if you are eager to come out).  Whatever happens we'll post some pictures of the food and videos of the music.  And as winter comes, try to keep warm.


  1. Update November 22: we are sold out! Warm thanks to everyone who has confirmed they are coming. If you donated online and haven't yet received a message with the address, email to let us know.