In the summer and fall of 2015 the thought of sponsoring Syrian refugees began to take shape. In a partnership with Rockville United Church (RUC), Rockville, Maryland, New Vision United Church (New Vision) embarked on the process of sponsoring Syrian refugees. Meetings via teleconference calls were held between leaders of RUC and New Vision. The partnership helped RUC to aid Syrian Refugees by raising funds that would be used by Syrian refugees coming to Canada. New Vision began collecting funds and RUC created a poster “All One Under The Sun”, a fundraising flyer and set up a FaceBook page called “Syrian Refugee Program” to solicit donations.
Wesley Urban Ministries contributed $5000 toward our sponsorship project. McMaster students from the Bachelor of Health Sciences program held a bottle drive and other events and contributed $820. NVUC held a dessert night in January 2017, at which the Rockville folks and the Hamilton relatives of the family we want to sponsor were introduced by teleconference. Rockville UC has held several very successful fund-raisers in 2016 and 2017.
When we had sufficient funds (over $30,000) and the requisite volunteers for the various tasks that will be necessary, application documents for one family were formally submitted to the UCC in late December, 2016. The UCC is a sponsorship agreement holder (SAH) with the Canadian government. After their review, the application documents were forwarded by the UCC to the Central Processing Office in Winnipeg in early April 2017, and we received notification that we were accepted as sponsors in June 2017. As we understand it, the file was transferred to the overseas office in Turkey at that date.
Wait times are now very long. Unfortunately, the family breadwinner was laid off from his job a year ago, so life in Turkey has been hard. Also, we appear to be sponsoring a family of 5 now, instead of 4, as there is a little one on the way. This latest development will require a little more paperwork, a little more money, a little more prayer, and a little more love.
Many, many thanks go to all those involved in the project.