A group photo with Wisam in front of Lake Ontario. The Toronto skyline is in the distance.

Wisam’s story

Wisam was warned before she arrived in Canada that although people here are welcoming, the country is VERY cold. Her sister had arrived in Canada a couple years earlier and told Wisam what to expect. When Wisam arrived in August 2019 she was completely surprised by the weather: “I never thought I would feel such heat in Canada.” She had assumed she would never again feel the hotness of the Middle East she was accustomed to experiencing.

Wisam’s understanding of Canada is typical of that of many refugees fleeing war and persecution.  They know Canada is safe compared to where they were, but everything else is a mystery. With the support of FaithWorks, AURA is able to complete our mission of providing support and expertise to refugee sponsors as they guide refugee newcomers like Wisam through the first steps to their new lives in Canada.

Wisam was in for many surprises in Canada: traveling around her new city using a “perfect” transportation system, being able to use the internet to do almost everything, and finding out people can communicate easily with email and text instead of only over a phone.  Throughout her new experiences she had the help of members of her refugee sponsoring group: arranging housing, getting her kids into the school, helping apply for health cards, and finding a dentist and family doctor. Wisam says that the support of people who understand Canadian life decreased the hardship she faced as a newcomer by at least half.

That first year living in Canada is critical for refugee newcomers. As Wisam says: “It’s shaping a whole new life for newcomers who feel fragile and terrified as they leave their lives and their stories behind to pursue new ones.” She is working towards becoming a Canadian citizen and would love to be part of a future sponsoring group to help someone else begin a next chapter of their lives, safely, in Canada.

AURA is a Canadian charitable organization assisting in the sponsorship and resettlement of refugees. It is only though the generous support of FaithWorks that stories like Wisam are possible.