The cicadas in Chicago are chirping much louder now, a sure sign that summer is coming to a close. I wish I could say the same about the presidential campaigns, but we have almost three months to go at the time of writing.
But there are several positive things to look forward to, such as the baseball playoffs (the Cubs really do have a chance!), football season, the advent of crisp, cooler days, and increased chocolate consumption.
And that leads me to a news report that was forwarded by one of my fellow BNP Media editors. It centers around a Syrian refugee who — upon getting permission to emigrate to Canada — was able to rekindle his chocolate business in Nova Scotia, albeit on a much smaller scale.
According to CTV News, Isam Hadhad made the decision to shutter his Damascus chocolate factory three years ago, opting to flee with his family in order to escape death and destruction.
Mind you, this wasn’t an easy decision, given that he had spent 30 years building up the business and was exporting his product throughout the Middle East.
In doing so, Hadhad and his family wound up in a refugee camp in Lebanon. After spending six months in the camp, the family tried to make a go of it in their new country. Given Lebanon’s own civil strife, there weren’t many opportunities.
As the CTV report says, “The family’s future seemed bleak and uncertain until their application to relocate to Canada was approved.”
Fortunately, Hadhad’s son, Tareq, had applied to the Canadian embassy, stating that he would like to continue his medical studies abroad. The application was met with favor, although it did take a while for final approval.
Tareq arrived in Canada first about a year ago, settling in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. According to Wikipedia, Antigonish “is home to St. Francis Xavier University and the oldest continuous Highland games outside Scotland. It is approximately 160 kilometres (100 miles) northeast of Halifax, the provincial capital.”
By the way, St. Francis Xavier University was ranked as Canada’s top undergraduate college for five consecutive years in the early 2000s (2002 through 2006). Oh yeah, the town has about 5,000 people living there.
Quite a change from Damascus, eh? Instead of hookah pipes, there’s hockey and haggis.
After settling, Tareq had his family come to Antigonish, including his father. Of course, Isam had never given up hope about making chocolate again. Fortunately, in a place 8,000 kilometers away from his home, he found a welcoming populace.
It was at a community potluck dinner that Isam and Tareq discovered that his father’s dream of making chocolate could again come true. In bringing 100 pieces of chocolate to the dinner, the two saw every piece disappear within five minutes. As one might suspect, the feedback was fantastic.
And so, Peace by Chocolate was born. Granted, Isam works from a tiny shed as opposed to a factory, but it’s a start. And, according to CTV News, the veteran chocolatier plans to marry Syrian and Canadian flavors, creating new truffles to match his new life.
So amidst all this talk of extreme vetting of immigrants and refugees, we find a chocolatier who’s already giving back to his new country and bringing creativity and sweet satisfaction to his all.
I was going to say, “only in America,” but forgot it’s taking place in Canada. Perhaps we should consider emulating our neighbors to the North.