Last Sunday my wife Debbie, my mother in-law Betty (89 years young), and I were invited to celebrate the arrival of our first Project Abraham Yazidi sponsored family at the home of Hayder Essw in Richmond Hill. His cousins, the Mado family, had arrived from Turkey last Wednesday evening to be reunited with existing family already in Canada.
Saadi Mado, his brother, and his sister, had not seen their parents, two brothers, their sister in-law with her children in over two years. With the help of Project Abraham, Canadian and Jewish Friends of the Yazidis, and the Yazidi Human Rights Organization – International, in conjunction with the Office of the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT), they are now reunited. More importantly they are safe from the fear they had been living in, without food, adequate heat, medical care, and protection from harm. By comparison they are now truly living in a land of milk and honey.
True to Yazidi hospitality, Hayder’s house was an open door to friends, family, and the Yazidi community. We were welcomed with hugs and kisses to a house filled with children, men, and women, joyfully celebrating. They could not have thanked us enough, and made us more welcomed. They served us tea in little glass cups, offering us nuts and fruit, and filled us with the stories that lead them to Canada.
Hayder's son Azad told us about the gas station their cousins owned, and how an Al-Qaeda suicide bomber blew it up. The two cousins, badly burned, were sent to a hospital where another cousin, a medical doctor, looked after their badly burned bodies, not recognizing that he was attending to his own family members. They died a few days later.
Hayder told us about going to school in Iraq and being taught how evil Jews were by his Muslim teachers. His family learned, without even knowing a single Jew, to fear us. And now he knows that Jews are not his enemy; they are among the very people who helped him and his family get to Canada. He now knows the lies he was taught, the propaganda, the ideology of hate, and now knows that has nothing to do with reality. He and his family now embrace the Jewish people - and all the people of Canada. The truth really does set you free.
As if this was not enough, we were then ushered down into Hayder’s basement where a feast was set out in Yazidi fashion. Plates of rice, bread, pickled vegetables, meat, and bowls of soup were laid out on the floor. We ate crossed-legged as the children played, everyone taking pictures on their cell phones, passing food, smiling, laughing, and being thankful that the terror they were in has ended for them.
Most of the work for Project Abraham is still ahead. There are five more families currently in our refugee pipeline. More money needs to be raised. More government lobbying needs to be done. Our volunteer Resettlement Groups will work with the Yazidis to help them get jobs, places to live, learn English, and acclimatized to Canada. It does not stop here. But it sure is a wonderful feeling to do good for a people who pray for the well-being of strangers in the world before they pray for themselves. We need more people like the Yazidis in Canada.