Jane Dunlop, a member of the Diocesan Refugee Unit has a guest. Maryam, a 17-year-old, 4-foot, 9 and one-half inch Kurdish Muslim woman who came to Canada from Iran where she was sent at age 14 has come to stay with Jane.

Jane is a strong advocate for the church's support for refugees. She has been asking her parish of St. Philip's to consider sponsoring refugees for some time. St. Philip's recently raised several thousand dollars to enable two Ethiopian brothers to come from Israel, where it was illegal for them to stay, to join their family in the Lower Mainland. But with Jane's encouragement, the parish wanted to do more.

When Immigration Canada called Jane to ask if she would consider taking an urgent case in May, she was ready. However, by the time all the visas and transit papers were prepared Maryam did not arrive until the 29th September.

She had been in a refugee camp in Iran. Then she had been moved to a shelter for young men and women in Tehran. When the director of the shelter heard the story of her problems she asked Maryam if she would like to go to Canada. Her response was, "I will go anywhere where there is peace."

No one knows whether Maryam has a family although officials believe she was married at age 11. She is illiterate and speaks only Farsi. Under the impression at first that she spoke Turkish or Kurdish , Jane sought out people with these languages to translate with Maryam, but they could barely communicate.

A number of Farsi speakers were found through contacts in Jane's local community. An elderly man at the grocery store, someone's granddaughter, this person and that, all helped. They too called Maryam in the evening to wish her well and offer help as she begins her new life.

The day after Maryam arrived, St. Philip's was holding a clothing sale. Jane and Maryam went early. She had come to Canada with only the clothes she was wearing. She was told she could have anything she wanted at the sale, and she chose many things.

Jane said Maryam's favorite find was a fake fur coat which she carefully buttoned up as she took Jane's collie for a walk. She returned home and indicated it was indeed too hot for much of Vancouver's weather, but she continues to wear the fake fur on cooler days.

She also found stuffed animals at the sale. She especially loves a kangaroo with little babies who can be put in to the mother's pouch. She started carrying around her new toys, cuddling and singing to then. Jane realized that she was a young woman who never had a childhood.

Maryam has begun her new life with enthusiasm and tremendous strength, Jane says. She will begin attending a neighborhood school soon. And Jane said, at Maryam's request she has joined Jane on her regular trip to the local recreation centre gym.

Jane believes that Maryam has already changed her life forever. For whatever the future brings, Maryam brings with her a quick wit and mind. Most of all she is now full of wonderful joy and song. "Upon seeing Jericho with the beauty of the sea and mountains Maryam burst into song," said Jane.

Jane cannot give enough praise to the officials at Immigration Canada, the Provincial Children and Families guardianship program or her beloved parish of St. Philip with its people and its rector, the Rev. John Stephens.

"We have so much and it takes someone like Maryam to remind us of the wonder and delight that surround us."