Four years ago Beach United Church joined with members of St. Aidan’s Anglican Church and others in the local community to create the Beach Cares as a sponsorship group for refugees from the civil war in Syria. Our first sponsored family, Safwan Bdiwi and Aisha Dilwati and their three daughters, arrived in July 2016 and became independent of our sponsorship about a year later. Some members of the group continue to provide support to the family to this day.
In July of this year, our second sponsorship effort supported Salim Darouich, Duaa Dubayn and their 3-year-old daughter, Selena, to come to Canada from Lebanon. Immediately upon their arrival, they moved for a short time into a beautiful basement apartment in the home of a member of Beach United Church. This gave them a solid foundation on which to begin to build their life here in Toronto.
The search for permanent accommodation gave the members of the Beach Cares a taste of the acute housing crisis in the City of Toronto, with high rents and scarce vacancies. For newcomers with no credit history and no landlord references, the challenge was even greater. After looking at a large number of apartments, Salim and Duaa were able to secure a spacious one bedroom apartment just north of Eglinton on Victoria Park. The location of the apartment is ideal, close to shopping as well as to the School where Salim and Duaa are now both learning to speak English.
We watch from a distance the tragic civil war in Syria and the plight of the more than 5 million refugees from that conflict as well as the people displaced by war and natural disasters in many other countries. We are grateful to be able to respond in a very small way by providing a safe haven to these two families, thanks to the support of the volunteers in the Beach Cares and the financial and practical support of people from across the beach community.
We also acknowledge the ongoing work of the East End Refugee Committee, made up of people from 10 local churches, including Beach United; who have sponsored more than a dozen refugee families since their establishment in 1995 and continue to work quietly to respond to these needs.
-Paul Dowling, Animator, Ministry of Justice Seeking