Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Refugee Need Continues

RCMP acting Sgt. Lina Dabit hands out water and colouring books to Syrian refugees in Jordan bound for Canada.

The Syrian refugee family of five sponsored by three Belleville United Church congregations, along with community partners, is doing well. The commitment of volunteers both before and after their arrival has been remarkable. In addition to going to school with ESL support the three boys are being given the opportunities for sports and other activities. Mom and Dad are in school in their own way, learning English and figuring out life in Canada. I can only imagine their shock after last week's snowstorm.

They were among the fortunate refugees who arrived to a fully furnished apartment and a posse of committed supporters. Nearly half of the roughly 23,000 Syrians who have made their way to Canada are still waiting for permanent housing. The feds are telling us that they may double the number of Syrian refugees they promised to bring to Canada, but where will they go.

Our sponsorship group has set up a sub-committee to consider additional sponsorships, with an eye to bringing other members of the Al Mansour extended family. They have many relatives who want to come to Canada, although none of them has a clear immigration path yet. We know that the mental health of refugees is enhanced by having loved ones close at hand, so we would like to bring in family members. We will only do so

The sub-committee is made up of representatives of the three congregations, several from the Islamic community, and one person of the Bahia faith. The prayerful, respectful, and affectionate sharing and discussion is so impressive. We were asked if we were willing to specific single Syrian male, one of a segment of the population that neither government or sponsorship groups really want to consider. We decided we would after looking at his paperwork. Subsequent information and conversations with our Islamic partners with connections in the Middle East helped us understand that we wouldn't be a good fit.This man will now be going to Toronto, if he gains admission.  Still, the two meetings to get to the decision were important, and we walked away with an even deeper appreciation of one another.

We know the need is urgent and we hear and see the suffering of so many. We feel a responsibility to get this right, in spite of the pressures, to engage both heart and head.

I commented t the group that while the saying is that "God moves in mysterious ways" we discovered that God works in practical ways as well. I thank God for everyone involved.


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