An image from a New York Times story, the last in a series, on the personal resettlement program of Syrian refugees in Canada. Powerful on its own, the image, in context, says much about our country and its times.
Carole Atkins, a bubbly teacher’s assistant soon to turn 69, was a hockey fanatic, the oldest player in her league. Now she was initiating the Hajj children in the sport, outfitting them with gear and taking them to a weekly class while their parents stayed home. “Skate hard,” she told them as they bounded onto the ice.
Watching from the stands, the sponsors tracked the children’s every move. Moutayam, a fourth grader and the family comedian, was outskating everyone, even the Canadian-born children, charging to the front each time and finishing first. “Oh my God, it’s like he’s running on the ice,” Ms. Atkins exclaimed to Jan Dowler, the sponsor by her side.
As Month 13 approached across Canada, every group of sponsors and refugees had to determine what their new relationship would look like. Some were mutually relieved to be done, the chemistry never quite right. In other cases, the Canadians continued directly funding the Syrians, unable to cut the financial cord. …
Still, with the deadline nearing, the Hajj sponsors faced uncomfortable, nagging questions: Were they doing too much for the Syrian family? Should they stand back and stop acting as chauffeurs, planners and all-around fixers? Were they willing to let the family make mistakes? Even if they wanted to stop helping, would they be able to?