Faith Matters

 Our village prepares for arrival of refugee family unites community

There’s an African proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Having lived in Africa, I saw how people took a shared responsibility for the well-being of children.

I see how so many Canadians are stepping forward to “be a village” for newcomers to our country. As the Syrian refugee crisis continues, we are seeking ways to help, either by donating to the UN’s work in refugee camps in the Middle East, or by helping those who are arriving in our country.

The Carlisle and Kilbride United Churches have been working with a group of other churches for nearly three years to help an extended family of 19 souls reunite with their son/brother who lives in Hamilton. And now the time is nearly here. This weekend, we will be setting up houses where two of the family units will live for at least their first year in Canada.

The Rock Chapel United Church, where donations of furniture, household goods and clothing have been gathering, will be a hive of activity as trucks are loaded. The women who have worked so hard sorting and organizing will see these boxes of goods transported and then unpacked in the homes. The beds will be put together and sheets and blankets put on, ready to welcome people weary from a long and tiring journey. The fridges and cupboards will be filled. Cards of welcome featuring artwork by children from Flamborough Centre School and the churches will be displayed. It will be a busy time of working together to create homes that are welcoming.

We have learned a lot, too, about the resources that the city of Hamilton and Wesley Urban Ministries and other agencies are making available for the newcomers – English language assessment and classes, medical clinics with Arabic-speaking personnel, employment counselling and school settlement workers to help children make the transition to school.

More and more, I am conscious of the huge leap of faith that this family is taking to travel to a new land, learn its language and customs, begin their professional careers all over again.

I am grateful they do not have to navigate this alone, that there is a “village” of people to help and to offer friendship and welcome. I am grateful to all the people of the churches and the wider community who have helped us and others as well.

Thank you, village!