It's been one year since Canada started to welcome Syrian refugees. With this anniversary in the news all week, we wanted to share a nice short story from North Vancouver about how many different people and organizations can come together to make a really positive difference in the life of person who really needs support.
Last Christmastime, our neighbour and Brooksbank Elementary School teacher Laurie R asked us to provide a short class presentation about how life is different for a child in Nepal. Her Grade 4 students collectively raised funds for a generosity project, and they chose to purchase a Jacket for Jasper. They wanted to provide a thoughtful and functional gift to a person who could really use a warm coat. Their thoughts turned to the refugees newly-arriving into a Canadian winter.
Enter another neighbour, Cynthia B, a Social Justice high school teacher who really walks her talk. She is also an active member of the North Shore's Regional Ecumenical Sponsorship Team and has been helping to resettle families arriving from war-torn regions into North Vancouver.
A match was made, and the Brooksbank Elementary students donated a warm J4J jacket to Cynthia who in turn could provide to exactly the right person who needed it the most. Below is the story Cynthia related to Laurie and her students, and a photo of the jacket recipient, Bukhari Ali Salat, a blind refugee from Somalia.
"I am attaching a picture of the jacket being modeled by Bukhari Ali Salat, a 25-year-old, blind Somali refugee who arrived on Monday to live in North Vancouver. He was born in Mogadishu, Somalia's capital city, and has a very large family there. He went blind as a teenager after a head injury when he was 11 years old. He fled the war in Somalia and crossed alone into Kenya, where he has been living in a refugee camp for about 7 years.
"He is very bright, speaks Somali, Swahili and a bit of English. He is enjoying listening to CBC Radio, going swimming at Karen Magnessen pool and hearing the sea down by the beach in Dundarave. He thanks your class very much for the jacket, which is helping him to adjust to the cooler temperatures here than he is used to.
"I hope he may come to visit Brooksbank some time this year, once he has gotten used to his new home. He faces many challenges as a blind person, but will have many more opportunities here in Vancouver than he would have had in either his home country or in Kenya. We are glad to be able to offer him a brighter future.
"Thank you for your kind donation. Know that your "Jackets for Jasper" jacket is going to be well used.
Regional Ecumenical Sponsorship Team"
We've since learned from Cynthia that "Bukhari loves his jacket! He wears it whenever he goes out; [Cynthia's son] helped him buy an outer, waterproof shell at the Sally Ann so he could wear his J4J even in the rain."
We love that Jackets for Jasper has been involved, even tangentially, in such a heart-warming story and that we live surrounded by people with such generosity of spirit.
Photo credits: Cynthia Bunbury and The Canadian Press.