My name is Elizabeth Herman and I have been volunteering over the past year and a half to help refugee families settle here in Nanaimo, BC. This has included everything from collecting and storing household donations, furnishing their homes, providing transportation to and from appointments, teaching the children English and generally helping them navigate the system.
Asmaa arrived in Nanaimo early this year with her husband and 5 children. I had been collecting furniture and household items for her family and met her while delivering those items. Since then, I visit her regularly, have enjoyed her delicious cooking and am currently providing extra ESL for her children. She is a warm, generous, intelligent woman who is doing her utmost to create a new and better life for her family.
While the Canadian government has provided many health care services to the newcomer families, dental care has not been one of them. Unfortunately many of the families were under the impression that heath care, including dental care, was free in Canada and they postponed getting dental work done in Turkey, Jordan or Lebanon where it would have been a fraction of the cost. When I first met Asmaa, I noticed immediately that her front tooth was blackened around the edges. What I didn't know what that this was only the tip of the iceburg. I was chatting with Asma recently at an informal gathering of Syrians and Canadians and with the help of a translator learnt that on her way to the gathering she lost part of that front tooth. What remains is half a tooth, blackened to the root. I couldn't even look at it, it was so raw and painful-looking. It turns out that she has been in constant pain for months and surviving on painkillers while still taking care of 5 children, cooking all the meals, trying to learn English and worrying about family back in Aleppo. She had been to see a dentist several months ago but was told that to fix this tooth along with several others would cost over $10,000.00. The work should have been done months ago but this kind of money is well beyond her means. The sooner she gets this dental work done, the better; it will only get worse over time. We have been in touch with a dentist who is willing to take Asma on as a patient and refer her to a dental surgeon if necessary. All the money raised will be paid directly to the dentist(s) doing the dental work.
Asma survived many bombings in Aleppo, watched as her sister lost a leg in a bombing, fled with her family to Turkey, and endured the challenges of being a second-class citizen there. She is now in Canada, ready to start a new life but needs to be pain-free and healthy to do so. Please help if you can!
Asmaa was recently interviewed on CBC's The Current as part of their series on dental care in Canada. Please check it out! http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-december-07-2017-1.4436013
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