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Photo: Carolyn Bulsink, Wallaceburg CRC
Photo by Carolyn Bulsink, Wallaceburg CRC

When Najib and Nurhan Kahya arrived with their children in Canada, the first thing they asked was, “Will we be safe here?” As Syrian refugees who have experienced the horrors of war and the uncertainty of living without a home, their safety was a never-ending concern.

It took time, but the Kahya family can now say with confidence that they feel very safe in their adopted country of Canada.

The path to living in Canada was a difficult one for Najib and Nurhan who, with their two small daughters, Amal and Zeynep, had made their way first through Libya to seek temporary refuge in Turkey.

Upon their arrival in Canada, Najib and Nurhan had new challenges to face, especially since neither of them spoke English. They also had to make the difficult decision to leave all of their family back in Turkey and Europe, but their new friendship with their sponsors  at Wallaceburg Christian Reformed Church in Ontario helped to ease the transition and feelings of loneliness.

The family quickly adjusted to their new life, and happily enjoyed the new experience of living in Canada. They learned how to do their own shopping, and soon found their way around the town of Wallaceburg. Najib learned to drive in Canada, having earned his license, and was even able to purchase a car. This made getting around much easier for the family. There was also time for fun, light-hearted moments with the family learning to swim, “tubing” and boating along the riverfront, and in the winter months, ice skating.

Soon, even more successes followed. Their communication skills improved as the entire family went to school to learn English. Najib and Nurhan’s young daughters learned to speak English very quickly, and even helped church members communicate with their parents. Prayers were answered as Najib was able to secure employment after only a few months in Canada.

As the church’s refugee committee assisted the family with their new life in Canada, the friendship deepened and they became like family.

Many of the committee members “adopted” the Kahyas as their own, sensing the family’s sadness at leaving all their family behind, and became like mothers, fathers, and grandparents to Najib, Nurhan and their children. “They moved into town, and very quickly also moved into our hearts,” said Carolyn Bulsink, a refugee committee member.

Since coming to Canada, the Kahyas have added another child to their family. Little Tasneem is often teased about being the first “little Canadian” in the family, but the entire family is looking forward to the day when they can all become Canadian citizens. They are grateful that they and their children have finally found the peace and safety they longed for during those difficult years as refugees without a home.

For Carolyn Bulsink and other members at Wallaceburg CRC, refugee sponsorship was not only an opportunity to bless a family in need, but to also be blessed.

 “The Kahyas were a wonderful opportunity to show God’s love to someone in need. We fell in love with them right away, and as a committee, we enjoyed getting to know them and working with them.

“They are certainly proof of why sponsorship is so important, not only for those being sponsored, but also for those of us who receive them and work with them,” Carolyn reflected.

The Kahyas are one story of hope among thousands. Since 1979, World Renew’s Refugee Program has settled over 7000 refugees in Canada through church sponsorships.

On Sunday, April 7, Christian Reformed churches in Canada will have the opportunity to show support for World Renew’s work in settling refugees through church sponsorship.

This year’s Refugee Sunday takes place during the 40th anniversary of World Renew’s Refugee Program and to mark this special occasion, they are “Celebrating God’s Faithfulness.” For more information, please go to: https://worldrenew.net/refugee-sunday-2019.