It only took one email between the Unitarian Fellowship of Sarnia and Port Huron (UFSPH) and the Sarnia Muslim Association (SMA) to begin a partnership that will see these diverse faith groups working together to sponsor a Syrian refugee family.
The plight of Syrian refugees is especially poignant to the SMA as several families of Syrian origin worship at the local mosque. The SMA Executive had been discussing sponsoring a Syrian refugee family when approached by the Unitarians.
“Like so many people around the world, I was very touched by the photo of Alan Kurdi washing up on a Turkish beach,” says Ann Steadman, Unitarian President. “While wondering how our Fellowship could become involved in a sponsorship, I received an e-mail suggesting that we contact the mosque.”
People involved in the local partnership will be working with the Mennonite Central Committee, which works in partnership with the Canadian government.
Both local groups have embraced the partnership. The Fellowship members have overwhelmingly voted in favour of participating and the joint project has been enthusiastically endorsed by the SMA Executive. “We are very excited about working together,” says Aruba Mahmud, SMA Outreach and Education Secretary.
Representatives of the Sarnia Muslim Association (including presenter Fatima Haffejee) and the Unitarian Fellowship participated in an information sponsorship session organized by the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership on October 9.
The hope is that there can be some collaboration with the other local religious associations who also plan to sponsor people fleeing from war-torn Syria.
Some $30,000 will have to be raised in order to support a family for their first year in Sarnia.
Members of both communities are being asked to make monetary pledges and “in-kind” gifts.
The broader community may also make tax–deductible donations earmarked for the “Refugee Sponsorship Fund” to either the Sarnia Muslim Association or the Unitarian Fellowship of Sarnia and Port Huron.
An International Food Bazaar (with a Gift Sale and Henna Tattoos) will be the first joint fund- raising event. This is set for Sunday, November 22, 2015 from 2-6 p.m. at the mosque, 1609 London Line, Sarnia (south side of London Line just east of Global Doughnuts).