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Sometimes a welcome needs a little time to warm up, this was the case for a sponsor group and a neighbour in a small town in Ontario.

Sometimes a welcome needs a little time to warm up

This was the case for a sponsor group when they told a homeowner that a refugee family would be moving in next door. To the growing discomfort of the sponsor group member, the neighbour went on a lengthy tirade about how he had lived in his house for many years, fixing it up and keeping it in good shape, and working to raise the value of the house as he prepared for retirement. "Now that I might want to sell it, the value will go down with them moving in!"

A few months passed and spring arrived. When the lead sponsor member saw the neighbour cleaning his yard, the sponsor greeted him and in the ensuing conversation, the neighbour inquired about the refugee family.

When the neighbour heard that the newcomers were doing well, his face lit up and he commented on how much he sees the newcomer children playing outside and how friendly the family was, greeting him every time they met. “As soon as summer comes,” he continued, “I want to invite them over for a barbecue and introduce the kids to my grandchildren. It would be so good for them to know each other.”

The sponsor group was in awe of God’s grace and saw the ripple effect of welcoming refugees into their community. “It brings people together that might ordinarily not meet, and it makes the world a friendlier and kinder place to live in for all of us. The values of kindness and compassion and hospitality need to be practiced face to face in order to be truly alive.”

We have many refugees who are desperately waiting for sponsors to bring them to Canada. Refugees like Yodit Ammanuel (name changed for security reasons), a young Eritrean woman who was conscripted and forced to serve without pay, inadequate food and exposed to sexual abuse. After fleeing Eritrea, she became a refugee in Sudan where living conditions in the refugee camp are dire. 

The good news is, these refugees are coming through the Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR) Initiative a cost sharing program with the federal government. Roughly 40% of the year’s financial support will come from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. These refugees are pre-screened and travel ready so once matched, they come to Canada within 2 to 4 months.

Go to mcco.ca/supporting-refugees, call  519-745-8458 ext 267 or email refugee@mcco.ca if you would like more information about sponsoring.