February 19 will be a day not soon forgotten in our newsroom.
Tragedy struck one of the happiest stories we have ever had the pleasure of sharing, when the HEART Society’s sponsored refugees, the Barho family, were the victims of a house fire . The tragic fire claimed the lives of seven children.
The Barho family—Ebraheim and Kawthar Barho, along with children Abdullah, four months old; Rana, 3; Hala, 4; Ola, 8; Mohammed, 10; Rola, 12; and Ahmed, 14—has been changed forever.
For Pat and myself, the news hit hard. The family’s middle children were close with my nephews, who lived just a few doors away when they first came, and Pat had the pleasure of covering the HEART Society’s bid, work, and joy of bringing the family here.
In community journalism, we do more than report the stories. We live the stories. This is what makes community journalism so rewarding, but makes telling stories of tragedy that much harder, as we are connected.
Members of the HEART Society are friends, watching Mohommed become fast friends with my nephews, knowing how happy the family was in Canada makes this tragedy extremely hard to report.
It just seems unconscionable that for all they went through, this is how their life ends. And it has for the parents, no matter how much Ebraheim recovers from his life-threatening injuries and Kawthar heals emotionally, one never gets over something such as this. That’s where the support from the community is needed long after the headlines end. It will be required long into the future.
And, with a small glimmer of a silver lining, we’ve once again proven as a community, a province, and a nation, Canadians truly step up when there is a time of need. Almost three quarters of a million dollars has been raised for the family and HEART Society. Community businesses, small businesses, charities, and everyday people are pouring their heart into giving back. At a bigger level, the speed at which authorities were able to bring family members over to be a beacon of strength for the parents.
Our hearts go out to everyone involved, from the first responders that attended the scene, to those supporting the family, and all those with children who knew the seven angels.
Take time to remember Abdullah, Rana, Hala, Ola, Mohammed, Rola, and Ahmed, and hold your own family tighter.
Abby Cameron & Pat Healey