Starting Over with HOPE

Please note: All names have been changed due to the wish to keep anonymity

Often, the in the busyness of our everyday lives, we (HOPE House staff) can sometimes forget the reasons Whyand motivations behind what we do; we focus so much on what we are doing that we can neglect to remember why we are doing it. Every time this seems to happen, however, a visit, a person, a family or a story reminds us of exactly why we are here.

And that is what happened again recently.

This week we met a young woman named Farrah who came in asking for our help. Farrah has lived in Canada for several years with her immediate family of 5, and while Farrah and her family had always been able to provide for their family’s needs, her circumstances had recently changed.

You see three months ago, 8 additional people moved into Farrah’s house—her siblings along with their children. Farrah’s house, meant to fit 5, was now accommodating 13—8 of which are under the age of 11.

AfghanistanFarrah’s extended family have recently just escaped from life in the Middle East. Raised in Afghanistan, their village was bombed in 2002, destroying their livelihood and lives there; innocent victims of on-going warfare in the area. After fleeing on foot through the mountains and across the border to Pakistan, there was little opportunity for them to start a proper life there. They found themselves living in poverty and squalor of an under-serviced refugee camp, where they remained for the next 11 years.

When the opportunity to come to Canada was available, Farrah’s relatives seized their chance—moving in with Farrah and her family. But while Canada was a safe destination that promised may new things, cultural and language barriers, as well as the need to start from scratch, meant a slow start to rebuilding.

While Farrah is overjoyed to be reunited with her family—her family’s budget was significantly stretched to accommodate an additional 8 people. Not being able to meet the needs of everyone, Farrah knew she needed to reach out for help.

And that is when Farrah heard about HOPE House. A chance encounter with a stranger gave Farrah a destination at which she was told she would find help—a place where multiple needs could be met in one location.

When Farrah, along with a family member Reema, walked in they had their heads down; they didn’t want to be noticed—they didn’t want to be seen as asking for a handout. We can sometimes take for granted how  incredibly difficult it can be to turn to someone else and ask for a helping hand.

But then something changed. Farrah and Reema met with a staff member here, they sat with a cup of coffee and talked, they shared their story of loss and gratitude, they were met with compassion and understanding, they shopped in our market talking about which food to take (they loved the fresh produce) and they even shared a few private laughs. Right before our eyes something within them came alive– they had HOPE.

There is something profound in reaching out with kindness and giving people back their dignity. There is something amazing in the power to choose—whether that be a choice to sit with a stranger, the choice to share ones story or struggles, or even the simple act of choosing one’s own food.

Bringing a family HOPE; there could be no better reminder of why we do what we do.

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