Five-year-old Gakah’s dream has come true after Ottawa Police sent a procession of vehicles to his home last week to lift his spirits, a day before he was scheduled for heart surgery.
Gakah, his parents Both and Tina and two-year-old sister Nyarew came to Canada in 2018. They were living in a deteriorating refugee camp of 15,000 people in Ethiopia after fleeing civil war in South Sudan. One night in 2018, The UN approached the family and told them they were being sent to Canada where they learned The Salvation Army Barrhaven Church would be sponsoring their family.
With much love and support the family is doing well in Canada and have been able to receive the much-needed medical care for their family. “We still connect with them offering both practical and pastoral care,” said Salvation Army Major Jim Mercer. “A team of people from the church have rallied around this family.”
Gakah’s fifth birthday was March 25th and he asked his father if he could visit a police station. The Salvation Army reached out to Ottawa Police but because of restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic this wasn’t possible. Instead, The Ottawa Police sent a procession of 8 vehicles to visit the family’s home.
Gakah, wearing the biggest smile, ran out to the officers when they arrived. The young boy had the opportunity to sit inside a police car with the sirens going and sit on a police motorcycle.
“It was very special for him because he wants to be a policeman when he grows up and having the Ottawa Police visit has changed everything. It’s created a moment of optimism for the family,” said Both. “He was very excited and watching him made it one of the best moments I have ever experienced.”
One of the officers gave Gakah a police hat, a badge and a pin, which Gakah proudly showed to nurses and doctors at the hospital the following day
Ottawa Police Acting Deputy Chief Mark Ford engaged his team to make the visit happen.
“This is a great way to build relationships in the community. We have an exceptional family that came to Canada in exceptional circumstances who have now found themselves among a COVID-19 pandemic and in need of a medical procedure,” said Deputy Ford. “We had the unique opportunity to make this boys day and really that’s what it’s all about.”
“We had a wonderful time and we appreciate the Ottawa Police for coming,” said Both. “The police are our friends and they are taking care of us. I hope this story will be shared and have a positive impact.”
After the procession left, Ottawa Police Inspector Rob Bernier and another officer stayed behind to speak further with Gakah. Upon learning of the boy’s dream to join the police the officer said to Gakah “I hope you do become a police officer,” and looking at his sister he added “We need policewomen as well.”
“This was truly rewarding for me to see the smiles on the family’s faces and lift their spirits in challenging times and a scary time for Gakah. It just made my day,” said Inspector Bernier who assisted in organizing the event. “We are part of the community and what a wonderful opportunity it was to share this with neightbours so they know we don’t only come when there is a crises.”
Gakah has recovered well from his heart surgery and is back home in good spirits. Gakah’s father says he is so happy and has great hopes for his children in Canada.
“I hope my kids become good people and good Canadians,” said Both. “Because we are here in Canada I believe they will have that opportunity.”