Family dreams of putting down roots
by Leslie Ferenc, Toronto Star
The Toronto Star
November 9, 2004 Tuesday
It’s heaven on Earth, where people are kind, caring and compassionate.
That’s how Arif and Narmina feel about Canada, where they sought refuge
just four short months ago to escape persecution by the heavy-handed
government in their homeland.
Arif, 41, was a translator by profession, working for a multinational
petroleum company. He lost his job because he was a Talishian
nationalist struggling for independence from Azerbaijan. Narmina, 31,
an English teacher, faced discrimination because of her Armenian roots.
“The government repressed us,” Arif explained, adding the family’s
only hope for the peaceful life they’d been dreaming of was to leave
everything behind and start fresh on new soil.
The couple and their 9-year-old daughter Sabina arrived here in July
with what they could carry.
Last month, daughter Nutella was born.
“Canada is a unique country and creates all opportunities for those
who come here like us and begin from scratch,” said Arif, who is
looking forward to making his way in this country.
Although they live meagrely on social assistance in a North York
apartment, depend on the food bank for meals and the furniture bank
for a table and beds, Arif said his family has been truly blessed.
“We feel it,” he said of the support the family has received from
“It’s tremendous help.”
Thanks to the generosity of Toronto Star readers, Sabina and Nutella
will receive gift boxes from the Santa Claus Fund.
They’ll be among 45,000 children in Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton,
Pickering and Ajax to get a special delivery this Christmas.
Arif’s heart bursts with gratitude.
“Sabina will be so happy,” he said, adding Canadians are generous,
“We thank God we’re here.”
But their future remains uncertain. The family is waiting for a refugee
hearing and Arif is praying they’ll be allowed to stay in Canada.
“We’re anxious to get our work permits and social insurance numbers
so we can get established, so we can stand on our own feet,” he said.
And they’re looking forward to their first Christmas here.
“It will be a very special time,” said Arif, adding he’s hoping it
will be a white Christmas.
“Canada is a winter country, a cold country and we’re waiting for a
Let’s make it an unforgettable Christmas for Arif’s children and all
the others by generously supporting the Santa Claus Fund.
The target is $1.3 million, and the Star absorbs all administrative
costs, so all proceeds go directly into buying the gifts.
Together, we can do it for the kids.