Samson & Helen’s Story

Finding courage and hope at the Crossroads Clinic

Dr. Meb Rashid was knee-deep in day-end paperwork after his clinic closed late on a Friday last year when a receptionist told him a patient had walked in.

“I went outside to find Samson standing proud with his wife and two beautiful daughters. They had joined him in Canada,” remembers the medical director of Women’s College Hospital’s Crossroads Clinic, Toronto’s first hospital-based refugee health clinic.

A patient of the clinic since he fled his home country of Eritrea in 2011 to avoid religious persecution, Samson was anxious to introduce his family to the Canadian doctor he describes as a “friend and a good person.”

Each year since its opening in late 2011, WCH’s Crossroads Clinic has helped approximately 950 newly-arrived refugees navigate Canada’s medical system. Dr. Rashid and his team help to ease their transition into a new life by providing comprehensive primary care aimed at preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, and reducing the number of emergency room visits. After two years, they help to connect patients with a family physician near their home.

With thousands of people like Samson arriving in Canada each year as refugees, including 25,000 currently escaping the Syrian Civil War, the work of the Crossroads Clinic is more urgent than ever. Having faced extreme poverty, hardship and trauma, many refugees have complex health needs that have not been addressed. Dr. Rashid and his team are working hard to bring Canada’s refugees to a place of good health so they begin settling into their new lives.

“Because I have a lower back problem and stomach problems, Dr. Rashid gave me medication,” Samson explains through a translator.

“When I worried about how I’m going to take care of my family, he encouraged me. He gives me hope. He says, ‘Tomorrow you will walk. You will run.’ He gives me courage.”

Samson’s wife Helen and daughters Mihret and Bethelehem are now patients of the Crossroads Clinic as well. The excellent care they continue to receive leaves Samson convinced that he made the right by setting in Toronto.

“Canada is a beautiful, peaceful country. It is now my country.”

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