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Recently I had the pleasure to council a 24 year old young women who had fled from Syria to a refugee camp in Iraq. To protect her privacy I will call her "Sarah" She was the youngest of nine children, five brothers and three sisters.

Her parents were simple subsistence farmers in Syria, outside of the City of Aleppo, that has been bombed without let up by the Syrian air force for many years.

Sarah’s father and brothers faced conscription by both Isis and the Syrian forces. Little water, no hydro and precious morsels of food to feed the family made life a challenge to survive yet another day in the heat and devastation.

The family decided to abandon their way of life and make their way to freedom in one of the many camps in Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.

Life was sure no bed of roses in the Iraq’s crowded camp where the family endured for six long years; there was a hope for a better life if they were most fortunate to be granted leave to apply as a refugee to travel abroad. They were granted permission to travel to a new safe home in London Ontario.

Sarah had absolutely no English language skills when she arrived in London. She excelled in her English Second Language studies and now reads, writes and converses very well in English. She graduated from Montcalm Secondary School and now works at not one but two jobs to help her family.

Sarah has many strengths: athletics, good ability, good work ethic, good willpower, good listener. good helper, good reader enjoying biographies, and she is very polite.

Fleeing from a life of impending death and violence it is not surprising that her weaknesses are: not a risk taker and afraid to fail. When given the choice to change the world or change herself she chose both: no more war and for herself she hopes to be more assertive.

Sarah looks forward to her future in London to work with people and graduate from King’s College which could lead to her chosen careers as a Teacher Assistant, Elementary School teacher or Special Education Teacher.

How do I sum up my afternoon with Sarah? She sure is not a victim looking back at the past but instead looking forward to the future of a rewarding fulfilling career teaching young children. She is a wonderful role model who will make a great difference to the students she will teach.

We all benefit when Canadians opens our doors to refugees to help make our country a beautiful rainbow of colours, religions and nationalities that we can be justifiably be very proud to have as citizens of our country.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com