Uniting in Support of Syrian Refugees

During my visit to the beautiful Maple Grove United Church in Oakville this past Wednesday, I was captivated by the beautiful Hymn to Freedom:

When every heart joins every heart and together yearns for liberty
That’s when we’ll be free

When every hand joins every hand and together moulds our destiny,
That’s when we’ll be free

In 2009, Ann Mulvale, former Mayor of Oakville and current Chairwoman of Women Gathering, started an annual retreat celebrating life with a group of Oakville women who shared the Christian faith.  As the years progressed, this amazing group of women continued to grow and interest had also grown to friends of other faiths – thus an interfaith organizing committee was formed.

The theme for this year’s event was ‘Canadian Tradition – Sharing and Caring in Support of Syrian Refugees’.  The event began at 6:00PM with registration and light refreshments.  Ann Mulvale opened the evening’s program with introductory remarks and was immediately followed by the keynote speaker for the evening: Naomi Alboim, Founder of Lifeline Syria.  Her detailed presentation of the plight of the Syrian refugees captivated the audience and really put some context to the heartbreaking images we’ve been witnessing.

This was followed by a personal account from Safaa and Laila, who shared experiences of their friends and family who have fled Syria and are now living as refugees, waiting to come to Canada. Katy Joaquim, one of the organizers of Women Gathering, asked them a series of questions on what their family was doing in preparation of the big move and what were they looking forward to when they came here.

Susan Kennel Harrison, ‎Associate Chaplain at Ecumenical Chaplaincy at the University of Toronto, spoke about the Abrahamic Faiths response to social justice issues. She highlighted similarities between Christianity, Judaism and Islam and how each faith spoke of kindness and caring towards humanity.

Ann closed the evening with the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you”.  The night was spent in remembrance of the plight of the Syrian Refugees, sharing actions as to how we can help and finally, committing to give all proceeds of the night towards sponsoring Syrian refugees to Canada.

Although the night felt heavy with the burden of addressing this crisis and finding a solution to it, I left feeling uplifted by the amazing women I had met and the countless efforts being made to help our brothers and sisters in humanity.  May Allah (SWT) bless everyone involved and ease the plight of all those who are suffering around the world.

Any hour any day, the time soon will come when we will live in dignity,
That’s when we’ll be free 

When everyone joins in our song and together singing harmony,
That’s when we’ll be free.

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