A refugee family experiencing Canadian cold for the first time got a warm welcome from their new community Wednesday.
Rishali Kambare and his family of seven arrived in Saskatoon this August. They fled Congo ten years ago and lived in a Ugandan refugee camp until their move to Canada.
Kambare’s four children attend St. Phillip School, where they met teacher Randeen Durette – who decided to nominate the family for the C95 Christmas Wish.
“This family still lives with the bare minimum. They will not have a Christmas with gifts and special food unless it’s donated to them,” Durette wrote in her nomination letter.
The family was chosen from more than 400 submissions and the C95 team got to work with a large group of sponsors to make the wish come true.
On Wednesday, C95 hosts Rob Suski, Shauna Foster, Tim Stone and Allie Ramsay – along with a crew of helpers – went to deliver the good news at the family’s home.
Before anyone could knock on the door, Kambare greeted the team wearing a suit and a big smile.
The family gathered in their living room and watched as strangers filed it with wrapped gifts and bags full of groceries.
With the help of an interpreter, C95 presented the family with their Christmas Wish – which included bill payments, decorations and an iPad for the children’s education.
Kambare needed no help expressing his gratitude – singing with an unending chorus of thanks.
But it wasn’t until the biggest reveal – a brand new car generously donated by Precision Autobody – that the wish became more than just a gesture.
“Here’s something in this box that might make your life a little easier,” Joe Giocoli said while handing the wrapped car keys to Kambare.
It was only one week earlier that the father had passed his Canadian driver’s licence test.
Once the reality sunk in, Kambare’s smile widened and he held up the key for everyone to see.
“Thank you very much, thank you so very much,” he repeated, as his children trailed down the walk with him to see the family’s new wheels.
Kambare’s wife was so overcome with emotion, she kneeled on the sidewalk by the car with her hands in the air. The family credits their faith for all they have, and expressed that through song and prayer in the home following the big reveal.
“This is a miracle for me and my family,” Kambare said through an interpreter.
The family invited C95 into their home after the Christmas Wish to pass around hugs and extend blessings to everyone involved– especially their nominator, Durette.
“It was very heart-warming to see them receive that beautiful gift – it was so amazing,” Durette said.
“I’ve been teaching for 19 years. I’m sure this will never happen again in my career, and this has made my Christmas.”
This year’s C95 Christmas Wish was made possible with help from Precision Autobody, the Kinsmen Club of Saskatoon, Al Hattie Insurance Saskatoon, Your Independent Grocer and many other generous sponsors.