We arrive at a small Vanier
apartment building shortly after 10am on Saturday morning, looking
forward to a visit with one of Ottawa's neighbourhood Bahá'í
children's classes and junior youth
empowerment groups. Ta La opens the door to the apartment, and before
we can enter his home his two children run out for hugs.
This morning, there are a dozen
children inside from five area
families. They are all recent arrivals in Canada, having come as
refugees from Asia. Ta La was a social worker in the refugee camps for
eight years before he came to Canada, and he focused his work caring
for children. Now that he is in Canada he has had a hard time finding a
social worker job. He sees the children's class and junior youth group
he hosts as a way to continue this work.
"I used to work hard to bring together the different religious leaders
in the camp -- Muslims, Buddhists, Christians -- because sometimes they
wouldn't even talk to each other," says Ta La. "In these Bahá'í
classes, the children are learning that we are all one family, no
matter where we come from. I am so excited to host this class."
This morning, Ta La apologizes that some of the children are missing.
"I tell their parents they have to push their children to come to this
class. It will help them to learn and become good people. Sometimes the
parents don't push them, but I will keep calling and inviting them to
We start the class with prayers the children learned last week. They
sing a prayer that says: "Bestow upon me a pure heart, like unto a
pearl." They sing another song and then break off into two groups, the
children with their teacher and the junior youth with their animator.
Two apartments become alive with the sounds of learning, drama, songs,
and games. Ta La smiles and says, "My children are very important to
me. Very important."