The warm welcome at the Castlegar airport. Adults left to right: Jan Micklethwaite, Sue Bushell, Bawi Vum, Christine DeMarco, Lun Lun San, Ko Ko Latt, Rosemary Manarin, Jill Peacock. In front are David and Samuel.

After fleeing repression, family reunited in Rossland

West Kootenay Friends of Refugees to support newcomer in new life in Canada

A Myanmar refugee has been reunited with his family in Rossland after years of being apart.

On May 30th an excited group of relatives and supporters gathered at the Castlegar airport to await the arrival of Bawi Vum. He looked happy to meet everyone after his lengthy journey from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Bawi (Daniel) Vum has come to join his cousin Lun Lun San, her husband Ko Ko Latt and their two sons in their home in Rossland. (Sun and Latt were the first people sponsored by the West Kootenay Friends of Refugees group in December 2013.) This hard-working family has been saving for years so they could privately sponsor their cousin — doing gardening, housecleaning, dishwashing at a local restaurant and, until recently, working the garbage truck.

Ko Ko Latt, Lun Lun San and Bawi Vum fled the oppressive regime in their home country of Myanmar and spent considerable time in Malaysia as refugees with few rights. Lun Lun San met and married Ko Ko Latt there and their eldest son was born in Kuala Lumpur. When asked why they left Myanmar, Bawi Vum summed it up succinctly by saying, “When the soldiers came, bad things always happened.”

Born into a Christian family, the three adults learned to speak some English in Bible School when they were young. Like other newcomers to Canada, they are now able to access support in learning more from the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy. They also receive help from members of the WKFoR, who tutor them in their home.

“We are all looking forward to getting to know Bawi Vum and wish him well in his new community. He is eager to find a job and wants to become a contributing member of society. His family and the West Kootenay Friends will be there to help every step of the way,” said a release from WKFoR.

 

Bawi Vum arrives in Castlegar after a flight halfway around the world to reunite with his cousins who worked to bring him here. Photo submitted

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