East Coast Home
Settling a Somali family for the second time.
The Abdi family came to Canada in 2016, sponsored by a small group of church people near Kentville, Nova Scotia. After the year of sponsorship was over, however, the Abdis moved to Ontario. This summer they wanted to return to the East Coast, calling it home. As former sponsors, we had no legal obligation to help them out, but we were unanimous in feeling a moral obligation.
We asked a retired Christian Reformed pastor, John Postuma, to visit the family and coordinate their move back here. Another person offered to acquire moving boxes and help the family pack. Yet another person was willing to drive the old van to Nova Scotia that Abdulkadir had acquired in Hamilton. Christian volunteer action is really something to behold: people coming out of the woodwork just to help a family whose still limited English and finances called out to caring hearts.
Housing for the family was the single hardest detail. We found that three-bedroom rental units are in short supply. Additionally, not every landlord wants six children, and we saw one man’s face change when the word “Somali” was uttered. Only 12 days before the family’s return, we finally found a house whose owners were fine with such a large family. The “new” house is in the catchment area for the schools that the Abdi children had attended when they were first in Kentville, a major plus.
On Canada Day, the Abdi’s seventh child was born in Kentville. Hawiwa is the first and only Canadian in the family, curly black hair and all. Her big sisters lug her around and dote on her. Abdulkadir is back at the job he previously held down. Noor, the oldest son, worked long, hard days on a farm during one of the hottest summers we’ve had. A committee member provided daily transportation for him. Both older boys are back in soccer. Two of us continue to do the family laundry until such time as they can afford a washer and dryer. One of us helped Hawa through her labour. Another continues to help them with financial matters and other paperwork.
The bottom line is this: all those millions of refugees around the world continue to need sponsors. And those sponsors, following the commandment to shelter the homeless, feed the hungry and welcome the stranger, had better be realistic about the effort required. As a committee, we are convinced that this is what Christians do. We’ve signed up to sponsor another family, consisting of the blind grandmother who raised our helpful young Somali interpreter after his parents and siblings were killed, along with one of her daughters with husband and three children. We tell ourselves this will be an easier sponsorship, since the family is literate and may even have a few words of English. They will also have their grandson/nephew here to help in many ways. This family is in Dadaab refugee camp, across Kenya from Kakuma camp where the Abdi family was born and grew up. Dadaab is more violent and dangerous, and more difficult to rescue people from. We pray that it will be possible.