By Kathy Rowe

Ryhan and Syed Rayman have lived in the Centennial community for 48 years and they have been married for 53 years.

This loving couple met back in Guyana. Ryhan noted that Syed was a friend to her eldest brother. Syed added, “Ryhan and I both worked for the bank. We met when I was transferred to a branch closer to Ryhan’s home.”

Ryhan lived in the country and Syed in the city. “When I visited on some weekends at her parent’s home,” Syed said, “it just gave me about two hours to visit before I had to start my return journey home via dirt roads and then crossing two rivers.”

Married in Guyana in 1968, the couple immigrated to Canada in 1971 with their first daughter. “We wanted to come to Canada,” Syed recalled. “Two of my brothers were here in Canada and Canada had many opportunities.” They never regretted their decision to settle here.

“Guyana went into a political spiral and we would have lost our jobs had we stayed there,” he said. “The timing was right.”

They moved into their home on Clappison Blvd. in 1973 and 11 days later they welcomed their third daughter. “This home was supposed to be our starter home,” said Ryhan. “We fell in love with the community and here we are 48 years later.”

Their first two daughters, Fariena and Camilla, attended Charlottetown, Joseph Howe and Mowat. Their third daughter, Saadia, attended Churchill Heights and then Woburn CI. “I was a stay-at-home mother until our youngest girl was able to go to school on her own,” Ryhan said. During those years, she was a busy mom and a committed volunteer at Charlottetown.

Once their youngest was old enough, Ryhan began working full-time at a travel agency. Now they run their own travel agency.

Travel was a big part of their lives while the girls were growing up. “Among other travels,  every four years we would take the girls with us back to Guyana to see family,” Syed said. “Now our grandchildren, of which there are five, are beginning to show interest in visiting Guyana to see where we came from.”

As the children got older, Ryhan and Syed remained active within the community and outside of it. They prepared as many as 100 meals for the homeless via the Salvation Army and they sponsored meals at the TAIBU Community Health Centre in Malvern. For Syed, it was the Lions Club as well as his Alma Mater in Guyana.

“We supported the many fundraising organizations in our Guyanese community. We were never home, always on the go,” Ryhan said

Despite some setbacks with their health, Ryhan and Syed have remained active and positive. “At the beginning of COVID-19, our families wondered how we would cope with being at home all the time,” Ryhan said. “But we are coping.”

In the beginning, they prepared care packages and dropped them off to friends, family and seniors all over the city. They do  home improvements, read, call friends and take walks along the waterfront.

“We continue to do daily webinars, courses and Zoom meetings,” Ryhan said. “My passion is cooking and baking and now we are enjoying baked goodies from our family and friends.”

When I asked Ryhan their secret to a long and happy marriage, she said, “We come from the fix-it generation. There are always challenges but you learn to cope with prayers, love and tolerance.”