A 19-year-old Indian in British Columbia, suffering from an undiagnosed disorder and fighting to stay in Canada, has been finally reunited with his parents from his native Gujarat state after three years.
"I just hugged them... and I cried," Dhaval Patel told The Leader newspaper after his parents landed at Vancouver airport last week.
AdvertisementDhaval had come to Canada with his parents after doctors in Gujarat advised him to move after looking at his condition which causes his eyes to swell and rashes to develop on his body.
Arriving in Canada in 2000, father Ramesh Patel started an auto parts business to pay for his son's medical bills. Three years down the line, when Dhaval's condition began to improve, they all applied for Canadian citizenship. But their application was rejected.
While Dhaval could stay on because of his medical condition, his father was forced to return to India. Some time later, his mother Jyotsna also had to leave her then 16-year-old son and join her husband home following a family bereavement.
The parents were then stopped from re-entering Canada, leaving Dhaval all alone in this country.
"It has been hard," Dhaval told The Province newspaper "But I've had lots of help."
A senior Canadian citizen, Jerry Price, who had met the family a year before the senior Patels' return to India, had acted as Dhaval's legal guardian all this while.
He helped the teenager in getting his doctor's appointments and helped him though the medical system.
"I felt compassion for the family," Price told The Province.
"At that time, they thought Dhaval didn't have much time to live, but they knew that being in Canada was making him better. They didn't know how the Canadian system worked - they have no relatives in Canada - so I offered my assistance... it turned into a great friendship."
The Canadian man also did a radio show with the young Indian, appealing to the Indo-Canadian community in Lower Mainland - the region around greater Vancouver - for help.
"The community was united to help this boy," the Province quoted radio talk show host Gurpreet Singh as saying. "We did some shows with Dhaval, and we got a very good response."
Although Dhaval has been unable to attend school or work, he taught himself English by reading and watching TV, and took math lessons from a retired teacher who donated his time, according to the Leader report.
His application for Canadian citizenship was twice rejected by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
Price then hired a lawyer for the family and a federal court quashed the second rejection, calling for the citizenship process for Dhaval to proceed.
Finally, in May this year, Dhaval received word from CIC that, pending some medical and security checks, he will be allowed to become a Canadian citizen.
According to the Patels' lawyer, the citizenship process will take between one and 11 months.
Now, with the senior Patels back on a six-month visitors' visa, it is one happy family.
What has made matters even better is that Dhaval has also secured a work permit and is looking for a job.
"I can't do a physical job, but I'm good with mathematics and I'm good with my computer," he told the Leader.
"I am really happy," the Province quoted Ramesh Patel as saying. "Thank you, Canada."