As I look out my window this near spring morning, I am welcomed by the growing light, the promise of longer days ahead. My thoughts are also drawn to the people of Syria and Turkey who have recently experienced horrific tragedies. I am reminded of how lucky I am that by a quirk of fate my family and I are not living near or in an earthquake zone. My thoughts go out to the wonderful people of these two countries who are suffering so tremendously.

Here in Stratford, Canada I have made my acquaintance with some new Canadians who have come from Syria in the past number of years and with whom I meet on a frequent basis downstairs in the building where I have my office at the Falstaff Family Centre. The Multicultural Association of Huron Perth makes its home here and we have newcomers from all over the world coming through these halls.

In particular, I think of the Azars, a Syrian family who volunteered their exquisite musical talents to raise money for the troubled people of Ukraine last April. Samir is a fine instrument maker and plays oud. His wife Rouba is a talented singer and their son Jawed plays percussion and the buzuq. Syria is one of the many places I have wished to visit, but have yet to. I was captivated a few years ago by reports of a fascinating aspect of Syrian culture, which is their coffee houses with story tellers from a time and place where things move more slowly and intimately. Our Syrian neighbours have made our lives much richer here in this part of Southwestern Ontario and we share their sorrow for all of those in their homeland.

And of course, my mind has turned to my many Turkish friends and fans who have either attended our concerts, listened to my music, or written me to share some exquisite dimension of the kaleidoscope that is Turkish culture. I have spent enough time in different parts of Turkey to feel a special bond with the landscape, its history and its people. I recall the lovely city of Safranbolu on the Black Sea and an archeological site just outside of Ankara, the Anatolia plains of the earliest ancient Celts, the caravanserais, and the captivating landscape of Cappadocia.

My hope for those of us who are currently able is that we may contribute to organizations helping the devastated people of these countries. There is the International Red Cross and the Red Crescent Movement, but you may well have your own preferred humanitarian organization.

We are reminded on a regular basis that tragedy is unbound by ethnicity or geography and that the bonds which come with helping others are universally strong ones.

~ LM