One of the most important things in life is family, and it can be very difficult to live apart from them. The feeling that you’re left out of a family event, forgetting what your brother or sister or their children look like. I used to feel miserable and sad when I’d hear family members say things like: “Oh God, I got to go to my brother ‘s for Sunday lunch” or “My niece’s wedding will be next week and I have to be ready for it.”

For 15 years, I felt incomplete. We, as refugees or immigrants, always wonder why should we have to leave our homes, leave everything behind. Our properties, our homeland, our memories from childhood and youth. We can never forget all the painful, hard times and what it felt like to lose our loved ones through no fault of our own. We left looking for a dignified, safe, secure and better future for us and for our children.

I was very lucky to be chosen to come to Canada, because it’s the most beautiful and wonderful country to live in. It is diverse and multicultural, and the people are kind.

Rabah and family reunited in Ottawa, Canada

I dreamed that one day my brother and his family would live in Canada. I never thought that this dream would come true. It was a big surprise when I heard that my brother Alaa and his family, and my nephew Mbder and his family had been chosen to come to Canada as refugees. I was so happy for them because coming to Canada would end their suffering and give them the chance to start a good and dignified life. It would open good opportunities for their kids to build wonderful future. But I was also happy for myself. I have part of my family here, with me. It is unbelievable!

I am so grateful to OCRA for their efforts to reunite me with my brother Alaa and my nephew Mbder and for giving me the opportunity to help them to adjust to a new country, new culture, and new language. My life has changed since l was reunited with my brother and my nephew and their families. They gave me a new, happy life.

When my family and I fled Syria in 1997, I left behind seven sisters and three brothers, along with their spouses and children. I have never had the opportunity to meet some of my nieces and nephews.

My youngest brother, Osama, was forced to flee to Jordan with his family because of the war in Syria. He has a teenage girl and young twins who were born in Jordan. I have never met them and have only seen pictures. He, his wife and his children are suffering, and their basic needs are not being met. They are deprived of social services and essential human rights, because of the limited resources and the economic and social conditions in Jordan.

My brother Alaa and I want nothing more than to be reunited with our youngest brother here, in Canada. We do not want to see him and his family suffer any longer, and we want our niece and nephews to have every opportunity to learn and grow here.


Rabah al Helfi came to Canada in 2001 with her husband and son. They had been living in Lebanon since 1997 as refugees until they were selected to come to Canada.

In 2016, she was reunited with her brother, Alaa, and her nephew, Mbder, when they came to Canada as refugees sponsored by OCRA.  She had not seen any of her 10 siblings and the rest of her extended family in over eight years.

Help OCRA sponsor Alaa and his family so that they can be reunited with Rabah. Donate now!