Another weekend, the extended group gathered for a picnic, the first birthday party anyone had thrown for Mr. Ballani. He was deeply moved by the gesture. “A human life has value here,” he had said in an interview. “You can feel it everywhere.”
But the conversation at the party turned to his relatives in Syria, and he seemed distant as the Canadians presented his cake. Like many of the newcomers, he regularly receives calls and texts from family members, some in harrowing straits, as news reports describe starvation back home and mass drownings in the Mediterranean.
“I am really thankful to them; I don’t want them to misunderstand,” he said later about the sponsors. “It’s like I’m two people at the same time, one happy and one unhappy,” because of his family’s continued suffering.
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