It’s a date Alison Azer would rather forget.
Feb. 15 marked six months since the Courtenay mother has seen her four children who were allegedly abducted by their father last summer.
In August, Alison Azer received word her ex-husband – Dr. Saren Azer (also known as Salahaddin Mahummudi-Azer) – hadn’t returned to Canada from a court-approved trip to Europe with her children Sharvahn, 11, Rojevahn, 9, Dersim, 7 and Meitan, 3.
Comox Valley RCMP sought and obtained a Canada Wide Warrant of Arrest for Azer – who practised at St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox. INTERPOL also lists the children as missing on their website.
In early December, Azer located her children – in a guarded compound – and was working with the Canadian and Kurdistan Regional Government to recover the children.
On Tuesday, Alison told The Record she returned to Canada after travelling to Kurdistan in late October with the goal of finding the children.
She said she was optimistic that they would soon be released and returned to Canada after she discovered their location.
Complications arose and on the 150th day of her children away from her, she returned to Canada.
“It was a challenging, gratifying and exhausting time,” she noted. “Coming back to Canada was hard; to me, it’s not home. Home is only where my kids are.”
Azer said she is “deeply touched and forever grateful” for the community support she has received and the desire to bring the children home safely.
“There are so many people tirelessly working to bring the children home. Part of me thought as time passes, people will get busy … I didn’t want to have unrealistic expectations … the support I have from my community – I’m forever thankful. Everything – from the letter-writing campaign to the taco fund – it all counts.”
She said she has fought a “very long, expensive and lonely battle” and regards the support she’s received as the silver lining.
“I’m not alone in that fight. I can’t imagine having to do an hour of this without the legion of supporters with me.”
Azer also credits Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns for his help advocating for the children with the federal government.
“The government assured me that they are using every tool at their disposal,” he explained over the phone from Ottawa. “They are actively engaging with all the stakeholders and key players in the region.”
Johns added he has been working with the Trudeau government “from day one,” and the government is very well-informed about the case. He explained while he will not let up pursuing the case, he added with spring coming, activity in the region picks up and “we’re all very nervous.”
“I’ve been deeply moved by the response from the Valley … it makes me hug my kids just a little bit tighter. There isn’t a night that goes by where I don’t think of (Alison’s) family.”
Alison noted her goal is to keep moving forward until her kids come home safely.
“I go to bed every night grateful for what I’ve achieved that day. I wake up every morning saying ‘the only job you have is to have the courage until you have to go to bed tonight.’”
For more information or to support Alison, visit findazerkidsnow.com or search Bring Alison’s 4 Kids Home on Facebook.