We first began meeting about nineteen years ago. André Birkhoff was the first Chairperson and we remember him saying that he had had enough of going to PROTESTS, and that he wanted to DO SOMETHING! At that point he was in fact doing something as he was meeting frequently with a refugee from Libya.
Our Committee was formed and we agreed jointly to sponsor a family from Cambodia in cooperation with the Church of the Redeemer. We waited many months and then at the suggestion of Don and Alice Heap we signed papers to sponsor another family of seven from El Salvador. We waited, and waited … and then the two families arrived within a few days of each other! Thank goodness both had supportive extended family contacts in Toronto.
We started holding an annual booksale to raise funds and remember Ted Hall and Alvin Wagner (who were avid readers) who did most of the work in the first years.
The pattern was set, and we had to get used to waiting for families to arrive. Working with and around a sometimes tortuous government refugee system has at times severely tried us, and of course the refugees themselves!
Here we are in 2008. Over fifteen years, the Church of the Holy Trinity has supported over 90 refugees from the following countries: Cambodia, El Salvador, Somalia, Burundi, Iran, Rwanda, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Iraq, Libya.
We are currently supporting three families. a family of three from Iraq who are living at Romero House, a mother and teenaged daughter from Ethiopia, and a family of four from Rwanda. This number of concurrent sponsorships is unprecedented in Holy Trinity’s experience and is and is straining our resources as never before.
We have received wonderful support from the congregation — and many other people, and it all began with André Birkhoff wanting “to do something”.