when we open our hearts...

This afternoon we had the privilege of meeting and photographing a Syrian refugee family, who will soon celebrate their first year in Canada.

In the last few weeks we have been working with a creative team on a project about how Ottawa embraced the Syrian refugee crisis. We have photographed an amazing group of people who made possible the arrival, integration and smooth transition of these families, ranging from settlement workers to volunteers, sponsors to health care workers, teachers to lawyers. Our last photo shoot was of this family, at their home.

When Mohammed, his wife and two young daughters opened their doors to us, we were initially hesitant, not wanting to intrude on their privacy, almost fearful, wanting to get the job done swiftly and professionally. As with all new experiences, we were charting unknown territory.

At this stage in my life, I have learned that beautiful things happen when you open your heart. So we opened our hearts. And beautiful things did indeed happen this afternoon.

An eight year old girl learned a magic trick and gleamed with pride.

Her shy twelve year old sister told us her dream is to one day be a doctor.

Her 49-year-old, gentle-mannered father spoke of how he so wishes to meet more Canadians and learn more about our country.

And his wife, a pharmacist whose livelihood was demolished in an explosion back home, told us how worried she is for her children's future but how very grateful she is to the seven Canadian families that made possible their arrival in Canada.

© Dwayne Brown Studio - the loveOttawa project

© Dwayne Brown Studio - the loveOttawa project

As we were heading out the door, they invited us to have a coffee with them. As our hearts were wide open, we accepted their invitation and basked in their company for as long as was possible.

Thank you, Canada, for reminding me what a gentle and lovely nation you are.

Anita.