Farah rolls over in her wheelchair and eagerly greets us into her home. Living in a housing co-op in SE Vancouver, her home is simple and spacious; a dining table and couches are available to host guests who do not prefer to sit on the rug. Running around the house entertaining us with their fluent English are Azita and Benafsha, the young daughters of Farah's good friend, Hadiah.

It was an incredible blessing to be part of Tenth's first justice journey with refugees this spring. The team and I spent the weekend in a refugee home in Vancouver hoping to learn and understand the cultures and experiences of families that are new to our city and how to serve them better. We were able to spend time with both of the refugee families that Tenth has sponsored in tandem with Journey Home!

Azita was excited to show off her unbelievable English as we enjoyed each other's company over lunch. She proudly listed her dreams and career aspirations and offered to teach us Farsi. I was astounded at her fluency even at five years old. The intillectual ability of Hadiah's children and their fearlessness to pursue their dreams reminded me that children are the future of refugee families living in Canada.  Meeting these children you would never know what struggles they had to overcome to get where they are now; they are so full of life and joy. Farah and Hadiah shared about their journey to Canada and what it has been like for them being refugees.

Farah shared about her brother who was shot and killed in the war back home; in an attempt to save him, she was also shot. Paralyzed she now lives bound to a wheelchair. The trauma she experienced at that time confined for months in a small space is never going to disappear from her life. Upon entering Canada Farah was placed by a social service agency into a home which restricted her mobility and ability to leave the house, the trauma and emotions of her past experiences resurfaced. Farah suffers daily with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which is a complex issue that can take years to overcome and the triggers are often hidden or overlooked.

Hadiah arrived in the US with her two daughters this past October. They walked across the border and showed up on Canadian soil; the journey has been far from what they anticipated. Back home they were promised welcome and acceptance but in reality were treated with disregard. Being moved from shelter to shelter without support delayed the resources they needed as a single parent family. Living in tiny spaces amongst addicts in the downtown eastside is not safe and far from ideal. Clutching to her five and ten year old girls, Hadiah spent months desperately asking for help. They were not granted permanent residency and could not apply for medical coverage which meant that when Azita developed excrutiating tooth pain she needed to come up with $2000 to get dental help.

Farah, Hadiah, Azita, and Benafsha are now well supported by Journey Home and Tenth Church. The two pieces of metal nestled between Azita's teeth when she flashes her adorable smile are a reminder of God's providence at work in this family. 

This weekend was an eye opener for me. Not only are these refugee families fleeing horrific situations, they are being welcomed into their new life with neglect and disresepct. They are carrying baggage we will never fully grasp and we must be culturally sensitive when working with these vulnerable people.

Blog post written by Elaine Cheng

How can you help? Learn about Tenth's minsitry with refugees.

  • Attend the next Soup&Prayer gathering which will focus on refugees: May 28th, 12:45pm
  • Attend Borders to Beginnings, an evening of incredible Syrian food and entertainment celebrating beautiful relationships
  • email refugeesupport@tenth.ca to see how you can get involved
  • Consider donating to "Refugee Support" in an online donation