May 3, 2023
With the celebration of Eid al-Fitr and the conclusion of the holy month of Ramadan, I am reflecting on the courage of our students and the community they create with compassion for each other. Our students demonstrate this throughout the year, but even more so during Ramadan – which was strongly reflected in the kind and wonderful generosity of one of our student’s parents – Kamel and Loubna Beyk.
At the start of Ramadan Kamel and Loubna approached me and asked if they could prepare and host a meal for our students and staff – not just those fasting through Ramadan, but all students and any staff who were available. So, on Sunday, March 26, Kamel and Loubna arrived at 12:00 pm to prepare the day's Iftar meal. They worked tirelessly all day preparing a beautiful meal for the whole Merrick Preparatory School community.
During the meal while chatting with Loubna and Kamel I could not help but reflect on how we came to be seated beside each other in Merrickville – me from Canada, Kamel from Syria, Loubna from Lebanon – and surrounding us students from 19 different countries. Kamel and Loubna now live in Canada, having recently immigrated, and the day's meal is a celebration not just of Iftar, but of all they and Iftar represent.
In the spring of 2019, they applied to Merrick Preparatory School (MPS) for their two eldest sons, one now a graduate of MPS and a successful second-year university engineering student, and the second graduating from MPS this June with multiple university offers to choose from. Living in the UAE then, they saw a greater opportunity for their children in Canada and MPS seemed a natural starting point.
Their story is, in many ways, quintessentially Canadian – an immigrant family working hard to create a better life for their children. But not just for their children – for Canada and the world. Their generosity, their selflessness and their compassion were perfectly demonstrated in the beautiful and joyous meal they created and shared - - - remember, they had not drunk nor eaten since sunrise, they toiled in a hot kitchen for 8 hours preparing a beautiful meal for the whole school – they gave not just of their time and their energy, but of their heart – a perfect demonstration of what Ramadan is all about.
It is this generosity of spirit, this act of self-denial for the betterment of others, this caring and compassion for all regardless of religion, this diversity and acceptance of difference that Kamel and Loubna represent that Canada – that we all – need so much more of. What they demonstrated on March 26 is something we here at MPS strive for every day. The courage to serve others despite our own challenges, – for Loubna and Kamel settling into a new country and all the challenges that bring, fasting and self-denial for purification and deeper spiritual reflection, – the building of community through the sharing of food and above all the compassion demonstrated in their selfless act of generosity.
As I got in my car to drive home, I could not help but be moved by all they bring to the MPS community, and to Canada. It is our diversity that is our strength, it is our acceptance of difference that makes us courageous, and it is compassion that allows us to see ourselves in others – and with this, we create a community which supports and allows us all to grow. Thank you, Kamel and Loubna – Canada needs more of you!