Founder and creator Christine Morton shares how one Rwandan family became a part of hers in what is truly, a Christmas story.
It was Christmas 2008 when we met the Rwandan family that would become a part of our lives. They are a young, resilient, courageous family who have worked hard and built a life here in Canada and are now giving back to the community as healthcare workers. I admire them so much for training and working tirelessly through the pandemic to care for so many beloved seniors. Their friendship and love has been an amazing gift which I cherish! They bring Christmas joy into my life!
Twelve years ago David and I went to a Christmas fundraiser put on by New Hope Community Services where we met five siblings who we invited for dinner. It was their first winter in Canada and they came into our home, huddled around the fire with their coats on and told us their story. They were orphaned in Rwanda and sought asylum in Uganda where they spent four years in a refugee camp before the Canadian government sponsored them to come to Canada.
That night, they were so full of life and laughter and fun that we invited them back to our home. There began a relationship that deepened as the years went by. We became family….We shared great events…..Graduations, weddings, births, Christmas’ and birthdays! Also the hard things…The fears, the heartbreaks, the racism they experienced, and the difficulties of navigating the government and social systems of our country.
And of course we shared many meals. David was the cook and together we would love to try to make meals we thought they would like. The first one was paella. We found out later, Yvonne, who was the only one that would eat it, threw up when she got home. After that we kept it pretty simple and we had many meals around the noisy table with lots of stories and laughter.
Yvonne was the oldest at 24, when we met. She felt very responsible for all the family. She shared those fears with me. She married a wonderful man Virgil and they have a beautiful daughter, Neriah. She smiles a lot now! Yvonne became a healthcare worker and has been at Haro House through the pandemic working 16 hour shifts some days.
Goreth was 22, boisterous and fun loving, she made us all laugh. We helped organize her wedding and were thrilled to meet her husband Ephraim and watch their family grow with two sons, Cleo and Cale, and a daughter, Chloe. She works full time in a care home in Saskatchewan, where they have just moved her to work in the COVID ward for Christmas.
Raymond, 20 was striking looking, always on top of the latest fashion trend. He often worked two or three jobs and he too is now taking the course to become a healthcare worker. He found a beautiful wife, Alphonsina and they were married in our garden. Now they have three little boys, Caleb, Caden, and Kyle.
Delphine was 18 when we met her. She is a beautiful girl who loves to eat! She called me when she went into labour with her first child as her husband Alain was still in Rwanda. I went with her and Yvonne and was so thrilled to see her deliver Ariela. She now has Leoro too. They are beautiful happy children. Delphine is also studying to be a healthcare worker. Alain works nights and comes home to take care of the kids so Delphine can do her school work during the day.
Jeanne was the youngest at 16. She was able to go to school and finish grade 12, and is now training to be a lab technician is Saskatchewan. Her wedding in Rwanda was planned for June of 2020. She cried when I told her I was going to come. However COVID put an end to that trip!
These were the words that Goreth wrote for David’s memorial in 2019: “Remember that you left kids that love you, you gave us hope when we were hopeless. You showed us love while we thought it no longer existed. You made a difference in our lives. I will miss every dinner you cooked with a warm heart and I will miss the hug the father hugged his daughter. You will always be in my heart.”
What a gift our adopted family are! They are part of what David and I created along with Selena, Andrew and Izzy. It grieves me that I will not be able to share the celebration of the birth of Jesus with them this year.
May there be a deep and real Christmas blessing to you, whoever you are, and wherever you may be!
With love from Christine and David and family.
Thank you for reading this sweet story that truly captures the spirit of Christmas. For those who are new to Christine, her beloved husband David passed in October of 2019. To learn more about David’s legacy, please read Christine’s pieces from earlier this year: Cherishing Love As Time Stands Still and Remembering Dad. Thank you and welcome to the Christine family. We wish you a very happy and healthy holiday and new year.
-The Christine Team