Waterloo's Uptown West Syrian Refugees Support Group

Submitted by Community Animator on February 23, 2016 - 6:06am
Written by Chloe Hudson

The Uptown West Neighbourhood Association is a community group, interested in promoting community in our neighbourhood. It is interesting, that one of the issues which has galvanized the group most was not one of their local community, but that of the plight of Syrian refugees half way around the world. But what I found interesting is that this shared concern actually brought local people together. People who didn’t know each other got together. They met they formed committees and worked together in wonderful camaraderie towards a shared goal. How often we hear about things far-away and can do nothing about them. I think being able to make a difference is very empowering for people in Canada, because if you can change one small thing, then perhaps you can change more than you think.

And of course, for our sponsored family it will help turn their lives around, and by bringing them into the community it will enrich our own sense of our community, because a stranger is just someone you haven’t yet met. It will also expand our community, as we have already met other Syrian families that have already arrived. We are hoping to help them, while we await the arrival of our family for whom we have already prepared a wonderful house. So many people came together and worked to put it together with donations and time and the result is lovely to behold. As one lady put it, it took 11000 emails and texts, but it all came together! But perhaps that expertise can now help this other family of whom we have become aware. Even people who could make it to Canada themselves are really still very much in need of our help and I would like to extend an appeal for our new family who are the sister, brother in law and two nephews of someone who made it out on his own and managed to sponsor this part of his family to get them to safety as well. But although they are safe, they are all in his apartment with his family and it would be wonderful to find them a place as well and furnish it.

So if anyone would be interested in contributing please contact info.uptown.west@gmail.com. Certainly household goods would be appreciated, but also children’s books and toys.

By the time our sponsored family arrives, not only will they have a home, but now, I see also a network of other Syrian families they can seek out. Hopefully, this will help us help them engage with the rest of our community as they will have access to other people to who share their culture but also share our language. Those who already speak English so well, can help those of us who only speak Arabic, so well.

If you are interested, one can actually follow the arrival of the refugee families at this link. It shows a feeling, a movement and the commitment reflected over and over again across the country. People can be brought together by certain issues and we hope that the change will last a lifetime for all those communities involved, as strangers bring us together.

You can track flights to Toronto and Montreal and see daily totals of how many people are arriving and where they are heading. Slowly, Kitchener and Waterloo are getting their share.