My parents have sponsored many refugees. Thirty years ago they provided financial support so a family of six from Cambodia could come to Canada. My parents have assisted them in many different ways over the years. Mom and Dad became honorary grandparents to a Cambodian family they sponsored, playing an important role in family weddings, graduations and other celebrations. Although my Mom has passed away, my Dad continues to be a part of their lives today and the grown children from the family still call him “Grandpa.”
Mom and Dad also sponsored a young couple from Croatia to come to Canada. My parents were their primary source of financial and social support during their first years in Canada. That family lives in Ontario now with their two nearly adult children but remain in regular contact with my father. I’ll never forget our first Christmas dinner with them when they told us they had lived in a car in Croatia and their Christmas dinner the year before had been a loaf of bread they shared with eight other people.
Three female-led families from Sierra Leone were also recipients of my parents’ generosity. Two had relatives here in Canada to give emotional and social support to augment the financial contributions of my parents, but one family needed ongoing help in a myriad of ways and my parents worked together with another couple from their church to provide it.
Mom and Dad supported many other immigrant families either with their money, their time, produce from their garden, their friendship or their advice.
In the midst of the Syrian crisis sponsoring refugees is becoming popular for churches, individuals, neighborhoods and organizations. That’s great! My parents like many other people have been sponsoring refugees for decades. They have always thought it was the right thing to do.