Thursday, November 17, 2016

Sewing with a Syrian Refugee


Oh, I just can't help myself. I've got to tell you a bit about my few hours sewing with Rezan, one third of Mahone Bay's Syrian refugee family. I was a little worried about communication because they just arrived here in September and they are just beginning to learn English. But it really wasn't a problem. Sometimes he didn't understand me, but it was never something that needed to be understood. For someone with very few words, he told a lot of stories.
It was funny because he has been here so short a time that everything he notices becomes his experience of Canada. For example, "In Canada, sewing machines small." (he's used to sewing on industrial machines.) I'm afraid I have now added, in Canada scissors are dull to his observations.
He told me how in Turkey (where they have been for the past four years) that the president didn't like the Kurds, but the people were good. (Man, that goes for so many places)

He asked if I liked Trump. I said, no. He laughed and he said, No Canada like Trump. Teacher (his English teacher) ask 8 (the eight students) Like Trump? No like, No like, No like...She ask, Rezan, like Trump? I say, Yes, like Trump. And he laughed again. Everyone say, Rezan bad. More laughing. I get this man. He's enjoying messing with their minds.
But he also told me, Muslim no (pantomimed slitting throat) Muslim no (pantomimed shooting) Muslim no (pantomimed explosion) Alkaida bad, no Muslim. I know, I said, I know.....
I said, Istanbul big city. Damascus, big city. Mahone Bay, small town. You like? Yes, he said. I like Mahone Bay, but I like work.
He's been sewing for someone else in Mahone Bay, but the work is sporadic. I had to break it to him that it's the same for me. So hard, I wish I could keep him busy, but there's no guarantee. Must be difficult to be idle when you are a worker by nature. I tried to explain that this is how so many people make a living in rural Nova Scotia. Lots of little jobs.
Oh, the label. Why the picture of the label? He called it, Made in Anna, although he pronounced it, Mad in Anna. I sent him home with a few hat bodies to sew and I had forgotten to give him the labels. He said, Excuse me..Mad in Anna? I ran and got the labels and his eyes twinkled with laughter. He's a keeper.