At a theme planning group in fall, Bryan asked Eric what his thoughts were on the theme of Fairness.  Eric paused for a long time, then answered slowly.

“A lot of people think that fairness is the same as giving everyone the same thing. I’m not sure this is true.”

As the New Year began, I asked myself what I’m most grateful for in my life.  It came to me the other day as we were playing board games with the kids.  More than financial stability, loving relationships, or even my health, I am grateful for my situation as a parent.

I have the resources and control to give my kids what they need. Health issues? I will take them to the doctor. Learning challenges? The school is working hard to support us in dealing with them. Non-material things too… One kid who is a little sparklier than is normal for a pre-teen boy? I have a congregational community that is ready to step up to joyfully support him in discovering who he is. It has been a tremendous joy for me to watch my kids unfold in this community, with fantastic role models and joyful intergenerational relationships. I have the flexibility in my life to adapt to the needs of my kids and meet them where they are.

I want every parent to have that feeling—that they are able to provide well for the needs of their growing kids. Whatever those needs may be.

Twenty four Unitarian Congregations from across Canada are working to sponsor refugee families (this is almost half of us!).  This is so important to Unitarians that helping with sponsorship has become a major part of the work of the national Canadian Unitarian Council. Most of the refugees are Syrian, but our congregation was approached by a member of the Saskatoon community who is desperate to bring her sister’s family to Canada. This family is from Burundi—the same country as the recently imprisoned (and then released, due in part to our efforts!) Unitarian Minister, Rev Fulgence.

As conditions deteriorated in Burundi, the family we are going to sponsor was eventually convinced that they needed to flee to a refugee camp in a neighbouring country. They were heartbroken to leave their home, but it turns out to have been a good decision—the situation in the region they left has since deteriorated even more.

Even in the camp, though, conditions are not good.  An upcoming election threatens the political stability, and there is a constant fight to control potential epidemics of communicable diseases. Beyond that, there is the daily grind of inadequate living conditions. As one Saskatonian sponsor put it “I have lived for three days in a tent with my kids while camping. That was enough.”

But beyond that, there is the psychological side. Conditions there are so dangerous that we can’t share specifics of this family’s story for fear that there will be threats, extortion, or sexual violence against them. Can you imagine raising kids in that environment? The family we are looking to sponsor is trying to raise four children, in a camp, surrounded by danger and without a stable community. The youngest is truly kid-aged (and may not even remember this time of life), but the oldest ones range up into their teens.  Imagine trying to provide the stability and direction that a teen needs within the confines of a refugee camp.

We want those parents to be able to give to their children a stable foundation for their lives. And here, in Canada, they will have family, access to health care, education, and more. They will be able to stop focussing on the work of keeping everyone alive, and start focusing on truly giving those kids all of what they need to thrive as adults.

Many people have already stepped forward with donations and offers to help. Direct donations are tax deductible and desperately needed, but there are lots of ways to help.  Volunteer help is needed in organizing and carrying out fundraisers such as the one on January 23rd (Latin Vibe).  Even sharing about the event on your Facebook feed is helpful!  We are also looking for tangible resources for when they arrive—their suite for the first year has been donated, and we are looking to get plans in place for other needs as well (one family could volunteer, for example, to take care of making sure their clothing needs are met, or gather toys).  If you want to help or be involved contact Stuart McIntosh or Doug Daniels directly or through the ‘Get in Touch’ link at the bottom of this page.

Liz James




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