A community making a difference in the lives of refugees

Refucare Ottawa welcome party, l-r: Brigitte Beaulne-Syp, Maryanne Mbabazi, Michael Smith, Marie and Mukeh, Cindy Mitchell, Marque Laflamme (foreground), Ingrid Fish, Yves Brunet (background), Barbara Bloor, Nancy Brown, Tom Slade, Wendy Bergeron

Cindy Mitchell

Not long ago there was a human cry for help as we witnessed the Syrian people’s country being torn apart. A group of Bettye Hyde Co-op School’s alumni got together and formed a group to try and help. Thanks to a letter to the Editor in IMAGE, written by Alan Humphreys, they found another group who had already started the paperwork to sponsor a Syrian refugee family, but needed more people-power.

In order to proceed, this group also needed a Sponsorship Agreement Holder who could help them make the connections to a refugee family through the UNHCR. Sandy Hill’s St. Paul’s-Eastern United Church agreed to help.

This group named themselves “Refucare Ottawa” and after much fundraising in the Sandy Hill neighbourhood and other neighbourhoods as far away as Dunrobin, they were able to bring a young family of five from Damascus to Canada by way of Jordan. Anas, Eman and their three children arrived in February 2016. Now happily settled in the Conservation Co-op in Sandy Hill, this young family is thriving. Viscount Alexander Public School welcomed the two eldest children and Bettye Hyde the youngest. Both communities feel richer for having these people in their lives. As Eman and Anas continue to study English, Anas has started his own landscaping/yard maintenance business. His reputation and strong work ethic precede him and he has been busy. If anyone is looking for help in the yard please let Cindy at Bettye Hyde know and she will be happy to put you in touch with Anas.

Since the successful integration of Anas and Eman many of the people from “Refucare Ottawa” were inspired to do more work to bring more refugees to Ottawa. Anas and Eman are now part of this group still called “Refucare Ottawa” as they pay it forward, and they have already welcomed another Syrian refugee family to Ottawa.

With so many people inspired by the work of Refucare Ottawa, the group split and the second group named themselves “Everyone’s Sister.” This name was chosen because their intention was to help a single woman start a new life of hope and promise in Canada.

Again, thanks to the generosity of many Sandy Hill families, Everyone’s Sister has been fundraising for over a year and working closely with St. Paul’s-Eastern United Church who again kindly agreed to be the Sponsorship Agreement Holder. The church community, the 10 members of the group and their friends, Everyone’s Sister welcomed Marie and her nine year old son Mukeh, from a refugee camp in Ghana, on November 13. The group has fixed up and furnished an apartment in Vanier where Marie and Mukeh moved in on December 1.

These latest efforts by Refucare Ottawa and Everyone’s Sister were infused with the remaining money they needed to raise by a generous donation from the Shapiro Foundation and other anonymous donors. Refugee 613 and the Refugee Hub at the University of Ottawa were also key to aiding in the process for these successful sponsorships.

This article was written in an effort to let the people of Sandy Hill know that it is because of this wonderful community that now three families have been able to start new lives in Ottawa. Wishing you all the love and peace that the holiday season promises now and for the New Year ahead.

Anas and Eman at a dinner held on Parliament Hill with Jennifer Bond (Chair of the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative), David Johnston (Governor General) and John McCallum (Minister of Immigration,Refugees and Citizenship) in December 2016.