This is the story of a family we met from Colombia.

Leaving a life behind

Mary, Julio and their two daughters, Alana whom is sixteen years old and Sara whom is eleven years old left Columbia due to an ongoing armed conflict between the FARC and the government, since 1964. The armed militants have lived in the jungle and operated through organized crime such as kidnapping, drug dealing and extortion.. It’s almost impossible as a citizen, not to be affected by it. Sadly, many people have lost family members. The Colombian people though just long for a life of peace!

The family decided to leave Colombia and move to the United States of America, in 2012. Later, they traveled to Canada in July of 2013 where they lived in Micah House for three months. Micah House is a residence for refugees who first arrive to Canada. It was summer which made it easier for them to adjust to the colder climate as their hometown is always warm and they have never seen snow before. The daughters attended school in the fall of that year. The new language was a challenge but the two girls learned quickly in school.

“We’re like sponges, we soak up everything!’’ Alana said.  

They were unable to attain healthcare though in the beginning. The doctors found out that Julio was suffering from liver disease and discussed the possibility of a liver transplant in 2013. The health care system changed during their process of applying for Refugee Status. Julio almost died as the liver worsened. It was especially difficult to get any medical care without permanent residency as many doctors didn’t want to deal with the refugees, at this time as no one knew who was going to pay for health services and medications.

After they asked the first doctor whom helped them, how they could pay him for his services, he replied, “It’s important that you get better first. Don’t worry about the payment!’’

The family was extremely thankful. Challenges though with residency and healthcare continued.