Recent Eritrean Refugee Family Visit

 “We were so lucky!” Close to five years ago, Bread of Life Lutheran, Regina (where I was pastor) welcomed this young woman along with her brother and mother!  They are from the Afar region and had spent years in a refugee camp. In December 2015, thanks to Canadian Lutheran World Relief, they arrived in Regina. “We were so lucky,” Halima Afar said, “that the church helped us, it was better than others we talk to!”

I have to admit, I get teary eyed listening to her near perfect English, as when I first met her, she could not speak a word of English. I love ‘catching up’ with her, learning about school, her ‘Canadian’ friends, her mom (who is currently visiting her mom in Ethiopia) and her brother who was at work. We laugh about our ‘shopping trip for winter coats, only days after her arrival!!

‘Snow!!’, she wrinkles her nose!!   

She is like any typical teenager; we watch American idol while Afar friends prepare traditional cuisine for us.  The family moved to Ottawa in December 2016, where there is a stronger Afar Community.

She asks about my family, and the ‘church people’, Michael McCoy and Larry and Gail Fry!!  

She credits her strong English to Regina’s Open Door Zabiba Beshir Ahmed program and to Janelle Blakley for accompanying her to the after-school programs where Janelle helped her with English.

After we eat, we drink ‘buna,’ she prepares the coffee ceremony beautifully!!

The accompaniment of newcomers and assisting in their resettlement is truly a gift and Halima, it is we who are ‘lucky’ to have the opportunity to know you and to have learned from you!

Pastor Carla Blakley