Ibrahim Halil opened up his compact sewing kit and went to work. A bride, soon to walk down the aisle on her wedding day, was in desperate need of help when the zipper on her beautiful gown broke. Ibrahim deftly stitched around the broken zipper and in minutes neither the break nor the repair could be seen. With 28 years of experience as a master tailor, Ibrahim made quick work of the problem. Simple.
Well, it was simple except for the fact that the dress broke on a Sunday, and most of the bridal party was from out of the country and didn’t know where to find a tailor, but there just happened to be one living next door.
It was simple except for the fact that all the communication happened through Google Translate, as English and Mandarin were translated into Kurdish and back.
Oh, and except for the fact that Ibrahim and his family had only been living next door for four days.
Just a week earlier, they were living in a refugee camp in Turkey. They had been at the camp for three long years, since fleeing Aleppo, Syria. They arrived in Canada with only what they could carry in their luggage, including Ibrahim’s sewing kit.
“I was so excited and so happy [to] help Canadian people like other people helped [me],” Ibrahim later said through a translator.
It was a regular Sunday in a small Canadian city. A local family hosted a Syrian refugee family and helped them start a new life. The bride and groom, both also immigrants who had built beautiful lives for themselves in Canada, got to have their dream wedding.
And in moments, a community was stitched a little closer together.
“Everybody is really realizing the world’s a small place, and you can really make a big difference by doing small things for individuals who are close to you,” remarked David Hobson, Ibrahim’s Canadian host.
There is a lot of fear tied up in the word “refugee.” Ibrahim’s second name—Halil—means “close friend” in English. Perhaps Ibrahim’s story gives the word “refugee” a little more nuance.