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Vigil for Azer children brings hope to mother, community

Alison Azer addresses an audience of supporters from around the Comox Valley who came out to the Candlelight Vigil held Saturday at the Comox United Church. During the hour-long service, prayers of hope and healing were offered and several close friends of the Azer children expressed heartfelt stories of their missing friends bringing the audience to tears and to laughter. - Mary Lee
Alison Azer addresses an audience of supporters from around the Comox Valley who came out to the Candlelight Vigil held Saturday at the Comox United Church. During the hour-long service, prayers of hope and healing were offered and several close friends of the Azer children expressed heartfelt stories of their missing friends bringing the audience to tears and to laughter.
— image credit: Mary Lee

An endearing Candlelight Vigil was held Saturday night for the four young Azer children missing now for more than two months since their alleged abduction by father Sarin Azer.

Amidst friends, family and complete strangers gathered at Comox United Church, songs were sung, stories were shared and prayers of hope and healing were offered not just for their mother Alison Azer and her family but for a community at large. Within that community are the tender voices of other young children.

Until now the world has heard Azer's voice as her campaign for assistance from the Canadian government has made international headlines. Saturday night, the voices of the children were heard.

The children are the dear friends of Sharvahn, Rojevahn, Dersim, and Meitan Azer. Their voices echoed the sentiment of fondness and of sorrow expressed in song and in relaying tales of adventures and silly mishaps that each shared with the Azer children. As a mother grieves so too do her children's friends who are struggling to make sense, as does Azer, of what happened.

"What I didn't realize but I realize now, is through my children I have community and that there are people who love and support us that we knew, and people who loved and support us that we know not," shared Alison addressing an audience of nearly 100 attendees at the Comox United Church. "I walked the streets of this community and I see you. I see what quiet ways and loud ways, gentle ways and bold ways you help and that keeps telling me, they're not just your kids anymore, they are the children of this community."

Through this network of young girls and boys came together a group of women to form a community-wide support network for Azer. The women, four of them, are the mothers of the Azer children's friends. Together with five other women they joined forces to created "The Strong Ladies" whose goals are to build broader awareness, raise funds and step in wherever the need should arise to help Azer through her plight.

The group, led by Marin Amazzel, initiated the social media campaign FindAzerKidsNow.com with assistance from Elizabeth Van Egtereen, Alison's sister. In addition to the online awareness campaign, The Strong Ladies have held three fundraising events including the recent Candle Vigil followed by a Charity Pub Night at the Whistle Step Pub held Tuesday.

Amazzel explains that through increased public awareness the chances of finding the Azer children will increase. "At some point early on in the investigation it was mentioned by the RCMP that a case like this would be better solved through word of mouth."

Amazzel keeps a positive outlook as she explain how monies raised through her group's efforts are mainly earmarked for aiding the Azer children to get home and for additional assistance when they do return such as tutoring for the missed school.

Efforts continue to increase awareness throughout the Comox Valley with a Yellow Ribbon Campaign. "Tie a ribbon on your car antennae, on your door, or around a tree," exclaims Amazzel to departing audience members as they file out of the church. "We will keep these ribbons tied until our children come home."

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