Ashur – AURA

A Syrian refugee walks with her children at Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, near the Syrian border, Sept. 8. Around 30,000 Syrians live at the camp, with the numbers growing each day. Mohammad Hannon/AP.
A Syrian refugee walks with her children at Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, near the Syrian border, Sept. 8. Around 30,000 Syrians live at the camp, with the numbers growing each day. Mohammad Hannon/AP.

AURA (Anglican-United Refugee Alliance) works with parishes in the Diocese of Toronto to aid and support refugees through refugee sponsorship, settlement services, education, and other means. Ashur (not his real name) is just one of the many people who have been helped. Here is his story:

Ashur is a 7 year old boy from a town in south west Syria.

Ashur lived a quiet life, his father worked for the government and his mother worked for an international company. On the 6th March 2011 fifteen children were arrested and tortured for painting anti-authoritarian graffiti. The civic protests that followed their detention led to an outbreak of violence that would see a domestic uprising transform into a civil war.

As the civil war erupted Ashur’s father was murdered for being seen as part of the government by one side of the conflict. Ashur’s mother was threatened with death for working with foreign companies by the other side of the conflict.

Having no choice, Ashur and the remaining members of the family fled the only home they had ever known into the hostile countryside. Ashur made the 57 km journey on foot over the border with Jordan and eventually to the Zaatari refugee camp. Although safer, Ashur and his family now face the dangers of life in a temporary refugee camp and an uncertain future. Because of being directly targeted, Ashur and his family will never be able to go home.

Patricia – LOFT Bradford House

Patricia – LOFT Community Services“At age 17 I had my first psychotic break. I went ten years being schizophrenic and having psychotic breaks and was only diagnosed at 27. At age 39, they were looking for an institution to put me away for life because I was very disturbed and very sick and there was no way of reaching me. I was involved with a program at the Canadian Mental Health Association in Aurora, and one day people came from LOFT to tell us about their new housing program. I just asked and asked and asked, and I must have driven them crazy! I said ‘I’ve found my place!’ I just knew it was the right place for me. Continue reading “Patricia – LOFT Bradford House”

Sam – AURA

AURA - Sam and his friendsSam 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. Continue reading “Sam – AURA”

Lakefield After-School Program

Lakefield After-School Program (800x598)The Lakefield After-School Program (ASP) is a partnership between St. John the Baptist, Lakefield, and Lakefield Youth Unlimited. ASP offers a safe, fun, and caring environment for youth in grades 2-8 with a focus on the educational and character development of the youth who participate. The weekly after-school program includes food time, fun time, tutoring time, and God time.

I recently asked several youth why they enjoy their time at ASP. A 6-year-old boy said, “I like playing games and the people here are nice to me.” An 8-year-old girl told me that “ASP is a lot of fun. I wish it was every day!” Another girl, aged 9, replied, “It helps me to believe in God. It teaches us about the Bible. They also help me with my homework.”

Belkis – Flemingdon Park Ministry

Flemingdon Park - Belkis (519x800)“I don’t know where to begin to describe the difference that Flemingdon Park Ministry has made in my life.” Belkis moved to Canada just two years ago and decided to volunteer to gain Canadian work experience. Since then, she has been hired as the office administrator, working closely with The Reverend MacIvan Rogers in the Food Access Project. “I am grateful for the opportunity to work with the people and to serve them. We teach them about healthy food and nutrition, we have a community garden, and we share and serve the food that we grow with the members of our community. I’ve made new friends and I am happy to help people build up this community.” Belkis is grateful to have her job: “Now I can take chances to grow as a person and as a professional. But my family is what is most important to me.”