Refugee Sponsorship Campaign About More Than Money

A Syrian family of six will soon call Waterloo region their home. WCI, along with partners Calvary United Church and Mennonite Central Committee, has achieved its goal to raise the $30,000 necessary to sponsor a Syrian refugee family and has been officially paired with a family of six.

As I reflect on the 30 days of WCI’s sponsorship campaign, I felt amazement to have watched this initiative grow from an idea into something real.

I am a member of Crossing Borders, a group from WCI with the aim of bridging gaps between different groups of people and of traveling to various places around Waterloo region, and even Ontario, to present on our efforts. This group’s goals of inclusion and valuing diversity are consistent with WCI’s sponsorship campaign, and I believe that the group’s and WCI’s efforts have touched many more people than just those in our school body.

Over the course of the month’s campaign, there have been a few moments that stand out to me as examples of the power of an initiative like this:

A Memory

A World War II veteran visited WCI in the last week of our fundraising campaign. Posted in Italy during the War, the man said that he knew just how terrible war is and how he could not even begin to imagine what refugee families are currently going through. He then made a $175 cash donation to the refugee fund.

An Apology

At a past assembly to educate the school on the sponsorship campaign, one WCI student from Crossing Borders spoke about her experience with war. The story was heartfelt, emotional, and very, very honest. Following her presentation, another student came approached her to say, “I’m from the United States, and my father died in the conflict that you talked about. I just wanted to say I’m sorry.” Such connections can only be made through the opportunities to share personal experiences honestly.

A Thank You

Following a recent assembly at Eastwood Collegiate (ECI) that Crossing Borders participated in, an ECI student approached one of the group’s presenters, teary eyed. She explained that she had a close friend from Syria who was currently in the process of applying for refugee status. She mentioned that every once in a while, she gets to speak with her friend. She thanked the presenter for sharing his story, hugged him, and then walked away. Seeing what an impact sharing stories can have on others is a very, very unique experience.

A Reality Check

At the recent Fast for Freedom event at WCI, a Syrian family who just arrived in Canada on Boxing Day attended the opening ceremony as well as a few of the activities. They were able to say a few words and hear about how excited participating WCI students were to have them at the event, as well as to sponsor a family as a school. Interacting with members of this family and hearing parts of their stories were powerful ways to make WCI’s efforts to sponsor a refugee family even more real and meaningful.


There is no doubt that the journey to sponsor a refugee family has inspired many and brought people closer together.

 

Photography: Natalie Carmichael

Article: Alana Machaffie