Sam arrived in Canada during a blinding snowstorm just before Christmas, 2013. He was greeted by members of his parish sponsorship team who quickly arranged for Sam to trade in his lightweight hoodie and running shoes – the clothes he had on his back when he left his homeland of Eritrea as a refugee – for a warm parka, mitts and boots. His sponsorship was facilitated with the help of AURA – the Anglican United Refugee Alliance. AURA staff were enormously helpful to the parish welcoming committee in submitting their application to become refugee sponsors, planning for Sam’s arrival, and addressing concerns that came up after his arrival in Canada.
Since arriving in Canada, Sam has become a member of his parish family in every sense of the word. He has a full-time job and a girlfriend, and attends parish events whenever he can. He is working to improve his English in order to be successful in business. In the meantime, Sam responded to my questions with the help of a translator.
- What difference has the parish’s sponsorship made in your life?
That someone showed an interest in me. I never had someone in my life caring enough and really interested in helping me like you did.
- What gives you hope?
At one point in my life I lost hope. I wondered if I would live.
I was sold twice by smugglers who moved me out of Eritrea to the refugee camps. I never thought I would live (they kill many who can’t pay the ransom; I thought I had a 50% chance of survival).
Even when I came here I wondered if I would survive – I had no hope. Looking back now I realize I cannot just survive but thrive.
- What is your hope for the new year?
All I hope for is peace and love. That is possible in a free country like Canada.