“There will be a time where all the kids are back.”
Alison Azer sits quietly on the right side of a couch in her office, looking out the window, taking a deep breath while holding back tears.
It’s Friday – one week exactly since she received confirmation of her suspicion that her ex-husband hasn’t returned to Canada from a court-approved trip to Europe with her four children – Meitan, 3, Dersim,7,
Rojevahn, 9, and Sharvahn,11.
The week has been filled with what Azer calls “the power of the collective” – the way in which family, friends and the community have come together while she works through establishing supports and a plan to search for her children.
“It’s just a fascinating insight into the capacity of human beings to connect to a story on a really primal level,” she explains. “I feel profoundly connected to the universe through this. I’m using my strength to drive it to my kids.”
Cpl. Darren Lagan, RCMP Island District spokesman, says after receiving initial details on Aug. 15, extensive work and communication with international law enforcement partners and Interpol began for the search for Azer’s children.
Dr. Salahaddin Mahmudi Azer (Saren), a Comox Valley resident, failed to return the children to Canada as scheduled. This led to an order by the Supreme Court of British Columbia on Aug. 21 requiring the children be immediately returned to the custody of their mother, adds Lagan.
On Aug. 24, Comox Valley RCMP sought and obtained a Canada Wide Warrant of Arrest for Azer – who practised at St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox – in relation to charges of Abduction in Contravention of a Custody Order, contrary to Section 282 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
While she’s allowed herself moments to face one of her greatest fears – she credits the support of those around her for the ability to not give up hope.
“That first happened Friday at 4:30 in the morning when the staff sergeant knocked on the door … I have so much compassion for the people who had to bring me the news. (He said), “as you thought Alison, as you feared, as we’ve been preparing to help you with, the kids aren’t coming home today,” she notes.
“I sat on the stairs and I started rocking back and forth and I held myself and there was just really mournful sounds that came out of me. So I have had moments where I felt I had to allow myself to go deep and dark because I’ve never lost the confidence that I could always find my way back out, that I will not collapse through this.
“I would know that I couldn’t let myself fall to the floor, because if I fell, there was a chance that I couldn’t get up. And I could have fallen if it was only on my account. But I couldn’t fall for Sharvahn, Rojevahn, or Dersim or Meitan,” she adds, wiping a tear from her cheek.
She gives full credit to her family – who on a moment’s notice came together and have been working non-stop with support.
“My support system is incredible. My sister is here – she flew out from coast to coast. Calling my brother Charlie at work. Calling my brother Alan … and making those calls and just needing people to be real with me. Needing people to say ‘I can barely talk through crying.’ I am so scared.”
Within days, a crowdsourcing campaign began to help offset the expenses, and in six days, the campaign surpassed its goal of $35,000. It is currently sitting at more than $45,000.
“You kind of lose your sense of being proper and saying ‘no no – I don’t want to impose.’ I’ve said to someone the other day that I’ve lost half of my manners. I’ve lost the half that says ‘please,’ but I haven’t lost the half that says ‘thank you,’” Azer notes.
She believes the children may have been taken to the Middle East, perhaps northern Iraq – an area she visited in 2010 – and adds she does have confidence in the authorities aware of the situation.
“We’ve been in touch with the government – Kurdistan Regional authorities – and they have assured me that they will do everything in their power. And I have multiple, very strong sources that my instincts in having confidence in what they say is well founded.”
As the days without contact with her children grow, Azer does not give up on the promises she’s made to her children.
“Every night I make good on my promise to Rojevahn, and I look at the moon, and I talk to her through the moon, and I tell her to be strong and be brave, and to talk with her sister … (telling her) to protect them. Meitan is three, and how much he understands, I’m not sure. But Dersim can take a Lego kit for a 15-year-old and it’s done within an hour. His heart is so soft.”
To donate to the crowdsourcing campaign, search Alison Azer on Fundrazr.com, or visit the Bring Alison’s 4 Kids Home page on Facebook for more information on other campaigns being organized in the Valley.
If you have any information on the location of Saren Mahmudi Azer or his four children, contact Comox Valley RCMP at 250-338-1321.
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Editor’s note: The Record has had contact with numerous acquaintances of Saren Azer, but none will go on the record.