Beach musician Ross Lynde had a small-world moment when he sang in Munich last month.
Lynde sings as second tenor in Cadence, a Toronto a cappella group who performed at Munich’s Spectaculum Mundi festival on Nov. 20 as part of their latest European tour.
Afterwards, Lynde briefly met Anahita Osman, a 30-year-old painter who is a refugee from Syria.
Lynde’s sister happens to be part of a Collingwood group that was trying to sponsor the Osman family’s move to Canada, so Lynde gave Anahita and her 17-year-old brother Izmir tickets to the show.
“She said thanks very much for putting a smile on her face,” says Lynde. “She hadn’t had a big smile like that for a while.”
Anahita escaped to Turkey in August, crossing the Mediterranean Sea in a dinghy two weeks before the family of Alan Kurdi would try to make the same journey, only to see a photo of the drowned boy become an icon of Syria’s four-year civil war.
According to the Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin, Anahita was three exams short of finishing a degree in English-Arabic translation when bombings finally forced her to flee her university in Homs and her hometown of Aleppo.
The family was forced to split up to make the move. Anahita has not seen her fiancée, now safe in Hamburg, for over a year.
“She just left with the clothes on her back and a pack of art supplies,” said Lynde.
Anahita stopped in Limontepe, a Turkish town that has become a landing pad for Syrian refugees, where she met a Collingwood sculptor, Debbie Ebanks Schlums, during an art therapy workshop.
It was Ebanks Schlums who later started the sponsorship group back in Collingwood with Lynde’s sister, a group that has raised more than $20,000, partly by selling a number of Anahita’s acrylic and sand paintings at a Creemore art gallery.
But the group is now looking to find a new family to sponsor. Frustrated by a Canadian government that insisted on passports they had no way to get, Anahita and her family have decided to stay in Germany.
“She was waiting eight months and heard nothing,” said Lynde.
“We said, ‘Oh no, you should come – our government’s changed and is actually doing things.’ But she said it was too late.”
Lynde only had a few minutes to speak with Anahita and her brother.
But he got a glimpse of what their trek to Germany must have been like when his group made a wrong turn toward Hungary on their way to Munich and saw a long line of transport trucks being searched for stowaways at the border.
“There had to have been over 1,000 trucks,” he said. “It was crazy. I can only imagine what they went through.”