This September, I joined a neighbourhood group that plans to privately sponsor a Syrian refugee family. Our group is one of many across this country, intent on coming together to do our small part to give a desperate family a new life, new hope, new beginnings, in a new country.
I’m feeling pretty fortunate to join this group: well-organized, informed, motivated and quickly ready to go. It takes a village. Each person’s motivations for embracing this commitment in the face of this heart-breaking human tragedy unfolding before the world are surely personal ones.
Before we embarked on this, we were all asked to examine very closely our motivations for doing so. It’s a very good question. What are mine? Because I can. Because I must. Because I have the choice to and the right to. Because I am just plain lucky to live where I live. Because this could be me (or you), it could be our children. Because I am a citizen of the world and believe in the fundamental goodness of people to give help when help is needed.
Because there but for the grace of a god – or just dumb luck – go I.
Much groundwork has already been laid and, frankly, all I’ve done in these early days is listen intently, take notes, and pledge dollars. I’m ready and excited to do more just as soon as we learn what “more” is. My sense is it could be a lot of waiting followed by an intense amount of activity once “our” family is identified. I know also that there are miles upon thousands of miles between there and here that will call on the goodness and skills of many others to bring this family to their new home.Those miles will be nothing compared to the physical and emotional distance travelled by the family we await.
Our group brings diverse skills and expertise. These are clearly going to be needed during this multi-faceted journey that will call on us all – at different times – to take on many responsibilities over the coming months as we await the family’s arrival. The commitment and responsibilities will continue in the year plus that follows as we assist in housing, accessing healthcare, education, ESL classes and more.
Raising money is obviously a big part of the commitment – it’s job one on this end before a sponsorship effort is considered viable by one of Canada’s 90 + official sponsorship agreement holders (SAH), who have agreements with the Government of Canada to help support refugees directly or through private sponsors in the resettlement process. To date, we’ve gathered pledges, appointed a steering committee and joined forces with a SAH with whom we will work closely to bring a family on the long road from there to here.
From Syria to Toronto. The journey home.
I hope you’ll check in.
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