‘A human life has value here’

Canada has stood in sharp contrast to the welcome that refugees from the civil war in Syria have received in many other locales.

The New York Times this week looked at the country’s welcoming tone, and its potential pitfalls, following up on how some of the refugees are doing.

Sponsors of the refugees get a year to help them resettle; that’s not a lot of time considering the cultural change that has to occur.

Another weekend, the extended group gathered for a picnic, the first birthday party anyone had thrown for Mr. Ballani. He was deeply moved by the gesture. “A human life has value here,” he had said in an interview. “You can feel it everywhere.”

But the conversation at the party turned to his relatives in Syria, and he seemed distant as the Canadians presented his cake. Like many of the newcomers, he regularly receives calls and texts from family members, some in harrowing straits, as news reports describe starvation back home and mass drownings in the Mediterranean.

“I am really thankful to them; I don’t want them to misunderstand,” he said later about the sponsors. “It’s like I’m two people at the same time, one happy and one unhappy,” because of his family’s continued suffering.

The sponsors had been working on that, too, helping match Mr. Ballani’s brother in Jordan with another Toronto sponsor group and laboring over the paperwork. By late spring they had news: His relatives could arrive by year’s end.

Mr. Ballani, overjoyed, started planning what he would show his relatives in the city that had taken him in. This time, he would be the guide.

“Now it’s my turn to help,” he said.

It’s a story of decent people doing a decent thing, a tradition worth celebrating today — Canada Day