ornamental ceiling with colorful stained glass

I’m of the belief that you can learn something from everyone. Well, I experienced my privilege in a unique way the last couple of days and was reminded of a few important truths.

While having my thirteen-year-old carpets replaced and working from home, I had the opportunity to listen to vibrant Afghan music and meet two great people who were installing the carpet – Mousa (Moses) and Farsine. I learned that Mousa played on the Afghan national soccer team before coming to Canada with his wife and two sons. Now he’s an independent contractor and, like many immigrants, is working very hard to make a better life for his family. He reinforced for me the sacrificial nature of parenting and how persistence in the face of adversity can lead to deep joy. Mousa has sponsored several friends from his country and he does everything he can to help them adjust to life in Canada once they get here. Even though he’s trying to make his own way in a new country he’s helping others. Mousa is a servant leader akin to his namesake in the Old Testament who also inspired others to imagine a new and more just future.

Farsine, an older man who Mousa calls ‘uncle’ (out of respect as they aren’t related) is a more recent arrival to Canada and had just applied for his first mortgage. He got the approval while he was working in my home and was so happy he thought I had brought him luck! He doesn’t speak much English beyond ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ yet and relied on Mousa to translate.

Both gents were friendly, professional, and very polite with each other and me, calling me ‘mam’ (which I don’t exactly like from my students but seemed ok from them). It was impossible to miss the joy and pride they took in their work.

They said they like to meet and talk with Canadian people and expressed how much they love Canada, “a country for everyone”. In a very real sense, I was pleased to be working from home (thanks to Covid?!) so that I got the chance to meet Mousa and Farsine. I am inspired by their joy, sacrificial dedication to their families’ well-being, and tremendous work ethic. And, I’m grateful for this simple yet profound reminder of our common humanity.