Wednesday, June 22, 2016
World Refugee Day
This has been one of those "and, and, and" days with a whack of commitments. It is officially summer, isn't it?
Yesterday I had a conversation with one of the coordinators of our Syrian Refugee Sponsorship group about the exciting subject of dental care for our family, the Al Mansours. The subject isn't glamorous, but it is part of our commitment to their overall healthcare. The government covers part of the costs, and the Al Mansour family and our group pay for the rest.
This seemed so mundane given the news on World Refugee Day this past Tuesday that there are 65 million displaced persons around the world, the most ever identified in human history. Syrian refugees represent one of the largest national groups, which was why the Canadian government sponsored 25,000 in recent months. Given that there are an estimated 4.8 million Syrian refugees our Canadian sponsorship seems meagre, except that it is one of the more generous responses amongst world nations. We have all heard that xenophobia is equated with "making America great again."
Our sponsorship group which involves three United Church congregations, members of the Belleville mosque, and many others, isn't done yet. The feds have begun processing five households --18 individuals-- related to the Al Mansours which we applied for in a feverish 24 hours at the end of March. We are confident that we can reunite them with their Belleville family. We are praying that they don't all land here at once!
When we consider the staggering numbers of asylum seekers and refugees around the world and the growing tendency to close borders we can be overwhelmed. Instead we can make our decisions to act practically and compassionately, one (or even five) family at a time.
Attempting to build walls, figuratively or psychologically, will not the crisis go away. We may not have ready solutions to a global challenge, but we will not lose heart.