November 13 is World Kindness Day, and as a firm believer in all things kind, I thought it would be appropriate to write a story about kindness. The story I am about to write is true, and it’s time to say “thank you” publicly for an act of kindness that occurred over 60 years ago. Do you ever wonder about the impact your acts of kindness might have? Wonder no more.
It was the end of World War II and a small family from Latvia had been living in a Displaced Person’s camp in Germany for several years, having fled their home as the Soviets invaded. When the allies arrived and the camps were dispersed, the family feared the repercussions of returning to their homeland, and like so many others during that time, needed a safe place to rebuild their lives. There were many who ended up returning to a Soviet occupied Latvia, some by choice, some not. For this family, mercy and kindness arrived in the form of an American Red Cross worker with a Latvian heritage. Understanding the potential of what the family might face on their return home, he worked to ensure they would be able to find safe passage elsewhere.
And so the trio, a mother, a father, and their young son, boarded a boat, eventually arriving in Canada, their new home. They worked hard to contribute to the new country that welcomed them, the parents instilling a strong work ethic in their son. Their son turned into a very kind man, his experiences in his early years undoubtedly impacting his compassion and giving nature. Eventually he went through university and married a woman who also believed in giving to others, and they had three children. The man worked as a social worker and the woman as a nurse.
Although quiet by nature, over the years the man told some of the stories of his own childhood to his children. His values of making a difference in the world, and of treating others with kindness, were passed down to his children, and they in turn became a teacher, a nurse, and a counsellor, each in their own way working hard to make a positive impact on the lives of others. I am the daughter of that man, I am the counsellor, and I will never forget the kindness and mercy of a certain man that I do not know from the American Red Cross whose actions have given our family a safe place to call home, in an amazing country. Thank you to him, and although he doesn’t know it, over sixty years later, he is still thought of with gratitude, and his actions are continuing to ripple in this pond we call home.