In a heartwarming tale, Canadians helped raise funds for a Syrian refugee boy who wanted to play hockey but did not have the gear.
It all began when a Syrian family of five including four children and their mother arrived in Newfoundland, Canada. Their father did not make it out of Syria and there was no way for the family to know if he was even alive.
Upon arriving, the family was helped by locals and neighbours to find lodging and a school for the children. Once school began, one of the kids, a third grader by the name of Yaman, started to get interested in playing hockey, Canada's favourite sport and passtime. However, Yaman did not have the equipment and had never skated before.
This is Yaman. He’s in Grade Three. He’s just like any other kid except for one thing:— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) January 18, 2020
His family are all Syrian refugees.
No biggie, after all Canada admits a lot of refugees, right?
Wait, keep reading. pic.twitter.com/h6zS90twXg
A journalist by the name of Muhammad Lila narrated the story on a Twitter thread that is winning heart online and spreading hope among refugee communities. According to Lila, as word got around about Yaman's interest in the sport, locals came to the boy's aid and took Yaman to a local ice skating rink.
When a hockey dad named Michael Doyle found out, he rummaged up a pair of kids skates and took him to “The Loop” – the local skating rink.— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) January 18, 2020
This was Yamen’s first time on the ice.
At the risk of sounding too Canadian: Not bad, eh?
It gets better.
They also posted about Yaman's story on social media, asking people to donate some gear so that the Syrian boy could play. In no time, Yaman started receiving donations from Canadians from all over who sent skating shoes and other hockey gear to the child.
A hockey equipment shop also offered to supply the boy with name-brand equipment at cost and netizens even offered to pay for that.
The next day, there was more, and then even more: Sticks, skates, even hockey bags.— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) January 18, 2020
Yup, random Canadians were sending their own equipment to a Syrian refugee kid they'd never met! pic.twitter.com/z5y5pPjoyQ
The next day after school, Michael shows up, knocks on the family’s door, tells Yaman to get dressed, and where does he take him?— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) January 18, 2020
To the hockey store!
He has no idea what to expect. pic.twitter.com/qOTxXbrhv7
Lila posted images of Yaman being taken to the store and asked to choose whatever equipment he likes without worrying about cost. An ecstatic Yaman chose a "Sidney Croscby stick" and other things he would need. The equipment that Yaman collected would be enough not just for him but also his siblings to play hockey. Netizens even offered to pay for Yaman's future equipment once he outgrows the current lot.
In hockey, you put tape on your stick for better grip.— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) January 18, 2020
When they tell Yaman to choose his tape, he goes straight for the one with a Maple Leaf on it.
He wanted to keep the flag with him, so that whenever he plays, he's carrying it.
Lila pointed out that the gesture was important to showcase how important it is not enough to just to give place and accommodation to refugee children but also to nurture them and help them make the most of their new life.
In Canada, hockey can be more than a sport. At its best, it can unite us. You’ll see Canadians, from all backgrounds, playing it everywhere: Streets, hallways, frozen ponds, you name it.— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) January 18, 2020
Hell, as kids, we played until it got so dark ouside we couldn’t see the puck anymore.
"When you’re an immigrant, the easiest thing in the world is to feel left out. Your food is different. Your accent is different. Maybe your clothes too. And when your parents are struggling to pay the rent, hockey is laughably impossible luxury," Lila wrote.
But here’s the thing, he continued. "When you’re a kid, you don't care about any of that. All you want is to want to fit in. And it hurts like hell when you don’t. It can be the worst feeling in the world. And that’s exactly why this was so awesome," Lila wrote.