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A heartwarming surprise visit

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During this season of gratitude and giving, and for me, reflection, I have a feel-good story I would like to share.

In the early '80s, Julian and I joined a group of people in this community to sponsor refugees fleeing refugee camps following the end of the Vietnam war.

The sponsorship included two young couples, Bounchan and Khammoun Keomany and their two little boys, “Battery" and "Lottery.”

In their hopes to eventually come to Canada, the Keomanys had chosen two english words they had learned in camp for their children.

The family lives in Toronto now, “Battery" is Bobby and "Lottery” is Lotto or Larry.

All are successfully employed and Larry has made Bounchan and Khammoun happy grandparents.

The second group, Kien and Hoa Luong and Kien's sister Lien, arrived here in 1980 and, they, too, eventually moved to Toronto.

This past August my phone rang and a timid little voice said “Sandra?”

She said she was calling on behalf of her aunt Kien, who, with her family, was in Fort Frances and looking for me.

We met at From The Grind Up and had a wonderful visit.

There were eight in their group, all in one vehicle that had driven from Toronto to Fort Frances by Lien's husband Tom to reunite with us, to hug lots and share stories.

They had come that distance to be able to personally say “Thank You” to our community for giving them the opportunity to live freely in a country like Canada.

In total, 107,640 Vietnamese have settled in Ontario, according to the 2016 census.

In the picture they stopped by for one more hug on their way on the long trek home.

Our community can be very proud of our involvement in this compassionate venture.

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