Recently we visited Greece – a nation at the heart of the refugee crisis. We met dozens of refugees and heard about their harrowing journeys across mountains, deserts, and seas to get to Europe. We visited Piraeus Port in Athens, where thousands of refugees live in tents on the pavement beside the cruise ships. While European vacationers board less than 100 feet away, refugee children play dangerously close to rumbling cargo trucks as their parents wait in line for cold showers.
Life on the refugee highway is as hard as the ground on which they sleep. Refugees are extremely vulnerable to human trafficking and other abuses.
Here’s a video we made about our trip to Greece.
Michelle also visited a refugee camp in Northern Ethiopia, where Eritrean refugees – many of them unaccompanied minors – are flooding in. Daily camp life is mundane, difficult, and often carries a marked hopelessness as they await sponsorship. The people we’ve met are incredibly courageous and resourceful, but they’re also exhausted and discouraged.
Jesuit Refugee Service runs programs for youth in the camps, including fine arts, dance, drama, and sports. Michelle brought a suitcase full of art supplies from Canada and assisted with the fine arts program. (To those of you who pitched in funds to help us purchase acrylic paint and brushes and other supplies, THANK YOU! Jesuit Refugee Service recently made a video about their programs in the camp, and the paint containers you see are the ones YOU paid for!) Mebrahtu is one of the people Michelle got to know in the camp.
We got back from our Greece and Ethiopia with a new understanding of how difficult life is as a refugee. If we were in their position, we’d want people from Canada to care. So we’ve decided to take action!
We both recently turned 30 – Michelle is three weeks older and tells Jay to respect his elders – and we’ve made it our birthday goal to raise $30,000 for refugees this year. But we really want to leverage our impact for the most good, so we’ve partnered with True City on a really exciting initiative.
We’re personally matching donations given here, up to $15,000. Then the whole $30K pot is going to True City’s Match Grant Initiative, which will in turn offer it as an incentive to local churches to raise additional sponsorship funds.
Here’s the breakdown:
$5000 will be donated to True City’s Refugee Engagement Project, to facilitate collaboration and better resource churches as they engage in sponsorship. This vital project will make it possible for churches to more effectively come alongside the refugees they sponsor through the process of settlement in Hamilton.
$25000 will be donated to True City’s Matching Grant Fund initiative. A number of Hamilton churches are in the process of privately sponsoring refugees this year. Each church must raise $10,000-$30,000 to provide for the first year of settlement for the refugees they sponsor. The Sponsorship Matching Grant initiative will make this fundraising task more attainable for these congregations by matching up to $5000 per church. We’re hoping it will serve as an incentive to spur generosity and jumpstart the local church’s refugee sponsorship fund.
To re-cap: every cent you donate will be matched by Jay and Michelle, and then matched again by a local church… meaning every dollar you donate will be quadrupled and used to sponsor families.
Please considering giving below, and giving big! Your donation will make a world of difference for families in need.
That’s way better than birthday cake!