As terrible events around the globe unfold, caring and compassionate Canadians choose to make a difference. Stan Squires is one such person.
Stan was deeply disturbed by the destruction in Syria in early 2016, the terrifying images coming out of cities like Aleppo and the forced mass refugee migrations that followed inspired him to act. After first approaching the Diocese and his own congregation, it was decided that a community based project led by St. Saviours would be the best solution. Stan explains that while they knew people would have the desire to be involved, they had not anticipated the sheer enthusiasm of the community. “We were overwhelmed by the support for the workgroup.”
The entire town was interested in the project; the Mayor, councillors and local media were valuable and active contributors. Stan emphasized the importance of AURA’s role in the sponsorship process, “We would have been completely in the dark trying to muddle through everything without the training by AURA and their invaluable work plan”. All his initial worries quickly faded as the necessary funds were raised and the community was on their way to a sponsorship. The Orono community and St. Saviours welcomed the Mohamad family in June of 2016 and since then the family has grown to 5 members. The family has been so touched by the support they received that Ahmed will be leading an AURA Ride for Refugee team on October 5th as a way to give back to the community.
While at times the sponsorship was challenging, Stan insists that as a whole, the experience was one he was extremely grateful for, one that he would never forget. “The sponsorship has been without a doubt the most valuable experience of my life. I learned a great deal about my own community, the many different ethnic families that had been relatively invisible in my own life to date.” Stan witnessed change; prejudice was challenged, differences were welcomed and community was strengthened. "The sponsor group consisted of 15-20 people of varied backgrounds, many of whom did not know each other prior to the sponsorship. The sponsorship united this group of strangers, giving us a common goal. Local businesses offered support, the local dentist, a child of refugees provided dental supported and rented an affordable apartment for the family where they remain to this day.”
The sponsorship process was enlightening for Stan, who had not known much about the suffering of Syrians, let alone the Kurdish Syrians, prior to 2015. The strength of refugees, people forced from their homes, fleeing for their lives, inspired Stan to find his own strength and recognize his own privileges.
"I have learned that challenging ourselves in the cause of others is the greatest work we can do. We can pray, we can talk, we can think about doing such, but to do it is challenging our own comfort levels and for the good of all. I have learned that humanity is basically good."
When asked to sum up the sponsorship experience Stan explained, “to help one refugee family escape their unimaginable horrors, is worth every minute of our own discomfort.’
Stan continues his tireless support of refugees now through AURA as a member of our Board of Directors.