We met the young woman, Rasha, in a park downtown on Thursday. She was sad, uncertain and wary. Anita took her aside, helping her feel more secure and at ease. Anita then fixed Rasha's hair and adjusted her clothing with great care, telling her that she was beautiful. Rasha felt better and allowed us to take some very nice photographs. They were sadder than our usual loveOttawa photos, but still very nice.
Anita then interviewed her, or better said, had a conversation with her. She very respectfully asked her to tell the story of her ordeal from Syria to Ottawa (a very challenging 18 month journey). The story was long, emotional, difficult at times and required Rasha to really trust, to be able to share so many details.
After the interview was finished and we were saying our goodbyes, Anita and Rasha hugged and agreed to connect later, after the post had been written. As we were leaving, Rasha came forward to Anita and hugged her again. This was a touching moment for me. This young, vulnerable refugee had lost so much and had been through such difficult challenges. Trust was very precious to strong yet fragile Rasha, and in such a short amount of time, Anita had earned it.
Our loveOttawa project is fun, creative and we know it helps shine light on the city, yet since I've partnered with Anita, it has matured and evolved. We are now at an interesting place where we can also help. As with Rasha's post, we hope we are able to highlight how Ottawa can help others on many levels. I am sincerely thankful to Anita for bringing such a graceful heart to loveOttawa.