MCC and Laurier sponsor Syrian refugee families
In November 2015, Wilfrid Laurier University, in partnership with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), sponsored three Syrian families who have been left country-less to immigrate over to Canada. Today, those three families have resettled in the Kitchener-Waterloo region. Wilfrid Laurier University was the first university to approach MCC, a non-government organization, to aid the refugees.
“A lot of people know about MCC’s work locally here and helping resettle refugees— those who have come in the last year and those who are still coming. But, we also want to remind people that we’re heavily involved in Syria itself,” said Rick Cober Bauman, executive director of MCC’s Ontario division.
MCC is widely known for being a local supporter; however, in recent years they have stretched their hand to give more direct aid on an international scale.
“We want people to see the broad scope of what we’re doing,” Bauman said. “Peace building and trauma healing with those who have decided to stay [in Syria].”
MCC supports organizations that offer alternative support, particularly those within Aleppo that give Syrians a chance of relief. Bauman spoke of an independent group inside Aleppo who held theatre shows and workshops to help individuals cope with the devastation citizens faced daily.
“They had sold out houses several nights in a row, not because it was necessarily safe to go out, but because people needed to have a hopeful alternative,” Bauman said. “We continue to support partners doing that kind of work, so we’re not waiting passively for violence to end. We’re contributing to peaceful alternatives so it’s more likely for people to see the end of conflict and return to their homes.”
While the conflict in Aleppo is currently at a ceasefire, MCC’s work is far from over.
“There is a hope that the ceasefire will lead to a lasting peace and we think Canada’s voice is an important one at the United Nations to add to the call for a peace agreement,” said Bauman.
The federal government has supported MCC over the years, adding a donation to the 45 million dollars MCC has spent in response to Syria.
“We’re very grateful for that, but I think we should continue to call on a strong voice from our federal government for a lasting agreement from United Nations.”
Bauman also encourages Kitchener-Waterloo citizens to do what they can and to write in to their local member of Parliament to endorse a peace agreement. As well, he welcomed those who do not wish to give money to MCC to make emergency relief kits.