On Friday, we threw a Canopy family Iftar dinner for our Muslim friends to break their fast. It was a wonderful evening of eating and laughing and just relaxing with friends. We would have loved to have opened this to the whole community but couldn't this year for logistical reasons. We hope to make this an annual Ramadan event.
Some 18 of our families attended the Canopy Iftar, with over 60 people in all. It was a lively group; children ran around Jennifer's beautiful garden; babies were passed around for adoring; and, as always, there was lots of laughing.
Our guests arrived before sundown to sit in Jennifer's lovely backyard and visit. For some of us at Canopy who'd been dashing around to set up the dinner, abstaining from a glass of water or juice while we waited in solidarity was hard! But our guests, who had been fasting all day, were relaxed and happy to sit and talk.
The sun went down at 8:01 pm. We shared a beautiful moment at dusk as one of our friends stood up and sang the call to prayer in a rich, deep voice. Then it was time to eat.
Thankfully, there was plenty of food. The Meat Cellar generously donated delicious Halal beef kebabs. We bought a large order of Walter's wonderful Narenj Pilaf. And all seven of us Canopy ladies made side dishes and desserts. (But not Christy, we don't let her cook, for everyone's sake.) A big shout out to Brian Kraatz, the home cook extraordinaire, who delivered a fantastic rice dish that was devoured immediately.
It's gatherings like this that make all of us at Claremont Canopy feel so lucky. The community of people in our area who've been displaced by forced migration is remarkable. They've all endured more than we can imagine and yet they still bring laughter and friendship wherever they go.
We started Canopy to help them but continuously find ourselves benefiting too. The way they make sure to slow down and enjoy family and friends is a reminder to us to do the same. Our hearts always feel so full of joy after we've spent time together.
One of our Claremont Canopy friends became a U.S. citizen in January of 2017. On Tuesday, he went to Taylor Hall to vote for the first time. He'd never had the opportunity to cast a ballot, even when he lived in Iraq and then Iran. He told this to the volunteers at the voting center, and they were all thrilled to help him. It was a great first experience. He sent us a message afterwards saying, I did it. I voted. I am officially a US citizen! We are very happy for him.
All you eager volunteers, we are revamping our website. Soon it will be easier to let us know what interests and skills you have to give. We'd love to find a way for you to get involved!