Aliye El Huseyin, a Syrian refugee, arrived by plane in Toronto on Feb. 29, with her husband, Omer Suleyman, and their three children, after a 14-hour flight from Ankara and an equally long drive from Mardin, the city in southeast Turkey where they had lived since fleeing the catastrophe of Aleppo.
They were carrying everything they owned in five 20-kilogram bags: 1,500 Syrian lira (under $10, all the money they had); three Syrian coffee pots, three kilos of Syrian coffee; four kilos of Syrian tea; a Tupperware container of her favorite seasonings; a bar of Aleppo’s famous olive-oil soap; her Koran; 20-odd hijab headscarves, … a cracked cellphone containing the e-mail addresses and phone numbers of everyone she knew; and, tucked carefully away, the keys and deed to her apartment in Aleppo.
Now living in the greater Toronto area of Scarborough, Aliye, and Omer have cooked 25 dishes for their guests, to break the day’s fast on the first night of Ramadan. Aliye is a gifted cook, and Omer made his living for a while as a chef in Turkey.
They’ve invited the core of their sponsor group, the private citizens who stepped up last fall as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees, helping to make Canada the second-most-generous country in the world last year in terms of all resettled refugees.
Whatever else an outsider might call the band of Torontonians who sponsored Aliye and Omer Suleyman as refugees – privileged bleeding hearts and citizens who don’t know how else to address an unsolvable world are two options that come to mind – the sincerity of their commitment is undeniable. Read more