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Raising funds to sponsor refugees

Meg Brockett is the organizer of an initiative to reunite a Syrian refugee family. SEAN HEEGER

Early in his first term, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought tens of thousands of refugees to Canada from war-torn parts of the Middle East. While many were able to make it to the country through the expanded programs, there were still numerous people left looking to get out of places such as Syria.

At the time, many groups and individuals stepped up to sponsor refugees. Calvary United Church in St. Jacobs, for instance, embraced the cause wholeheartedly, establishing a committee to sponsor families and help them come to Canada. Since that time, the church has helped multiple families, subsequently expanding their efforts and recruiting other churches to take part.

One of the latest additions, Central Church in Waterloo, is getting set to host a fundraiser with the aim of helping bring over the family of a student at Wilfrid Laurier University.

With the family they are hoping to sponsor, “the father was one of eight brothers, and they were real leaders in their community. When they ended up having to flee to Syria, they then used their educational leadership skills and have tirelessly helped their own people while in Lebanon, in this case, Aphrodite and her sister and her parents started a school for absolutely poverty-stricken refugees, the Syrian refugee children in their area,” said Meg Brockett, a member of the church and organizer of the initiative. “Because of their education both the daughters of the family won very difficult to win scholarships to Canadian universities, three years ago. At the time that they accepted the scholarships, they didn’t know that the Lebanese government was going to turn around and tell them they could never come back to Lebanon. So not only are these young woman amazing people who have come here and Aphrodite has done a master’s degree at Laurier in education with a focus on how to serve children who have suffered trauma.”

Brockett says the story of Aphrodite is very compelling because the family has worked to serve the world so well and they must now work hard to try to bring them here to not only reunite them, but also because she believes they will serve the community to the  best of their ability.

In order to help bring the family back together, an online auction is being held to raise funds. In total, the churches are hoping to collect $34,000, which Brockett says is the cost that the government deems will be their first year’s expenses in the country.

The auction will run from November 13 to 23, and people will be able to bid on a variety of items including Middle Eastern cooking, tutoring lessons, yard cleanup services, art classes and the like.

Due to the COVID-19 situation, the auction will be held completely online, which Brockett suggested will allow more people from the community to take part.

“We’ll be reaching out to the wider community, seeking people to purchase the services and the items, and having it online is kind of a fun thing because I think it will increase the element of competition in terms of the bidding and people can more easily keep checking back to see ‘oh, has someone bettered my bid?’ and that sort of thing,” she added.

Starting November 13, bidding will take place online.

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