Mim Wickett, Tenth's Refugee Support Coordinator, took the time to share the joy and privilege of relationships and loving our neighbours.
Eid marks the end of Ramadan — a day of celebration for Muslims after a month of fasting. The day is known for feasting, wearing new clothes, and visiting family, neighbours, and friends. Of course, this year the celebrations were muted in our refugee community due to the restrictions on gatherings, but still people managed to see one another and share meaningful fellowship.
I remember last year for Eid I attended three enormous lunches, one right after the other at three different homes.
At one home we ate around a tablecloth spread out on the floor, dishes heaped with food, food, and more food. Everyone was dressed beautifully in ethnic clothing. What stood out to me was a discussion I witnessed between three women as we ate together. It wasn’t in English, but I could piece together what the women were saying. They were clearly discussing why I had joined them for Eid, and my relationship to the hostess.
One woman’s family had been provided with shelter by the Journey Home Community, Tenth's partner organization in refugee support. Another woman’s family had been given settlement assistance by Kinbrace, another Christian refugee support agency. And the third woman, my good friend, was proudly describing that her support “family” was Tenth Church. On this very significant day, at this celebratory meal, Tenth was there.
This year, Eid fell on May 24 and was marked again by three visits, but they took place on a patio, in a driveway, and at a park. At one of the gatherings, I once again witnessed a conversation by the women about how I had come to be there. A friend translated for me.
“You’ve given us many things,” she said, “but the most, most important is time. You always give us your time.”
Maybe time has come to mean something different for us during this phase where we can’t access our usual pastimes. Maybe we have realized how precious it is to be able to see a familiar face. And we have been more aware of how interdependent we are and how we need to have a close circle of support around us to survive.
This then is a little glimpse into the experience of our refugee friends as they arrive in an unfamiliar environment, coping with isolation and the loss of routine. I pray that Tenth always has time for refugees — such a great and precious gift — and I hope we will always be invited to the table as part of the family.
Interested in learning more? Join an online screening on June 13, 2020 of the documentary 19 Days which follows the journey of new refugees to Canada.