Inergi Local member Rey Dunca just returned from Istanbul. It started as a trip for Dunca and his partner to see the city at the intersection of the global East and West. But then he realized he had the opportunity to meet one of the Syrian refugees Dunca and his neighbours are considering sponsoring.
As part of the Refugee Settlement Via Pocket (RSVP) group Dunca and his neighbours created in their east end Toronto community, Dunca is hoping to help six Syrian refugees find new lives in Canada. Though hundreds of settlement groups like RSVP have popped up across the country, Dunca’s group hopes to help people that other groups may not be thinking about. RSVP is committed to assisting one person who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), and another family of five that is led by a single mother.
In Istanbul, Dunca, a SAP technical consultant supporting Hydro One’s customer information system, had the chance to meet Abd, a gay Syrian man. Though language barriers between them made it difficult to understand one another, Dunca says that with help from amateur translators and Google Translate they managed to communicate.
Refugee settlement groups take on big responsibilities when they sign-up as sponsors. While the government provides a minimal level of support to some refugees, sponsors must fill the gap by helping refugees secure and pay for housing, find jobs, enroll in school, receive health care and generally integrate into their new community. In meeting Abd, Dunca wanted to make sure that he was the right person for RSVP to commit to. To Dunca’s relief, he returned to Canada knowing that Abd is the person he would like his group to sponsor.
To sponsor Abd and a family of five, RSVP needs to raise $60,000. Dunca encourages Society members to donate what they can either by writing a cheque to Eastminster United Church with “RSVP” in the memo line and mail it to Rey Dunca at Hydro One, 185 Clegg Rd., Markham, L6G 1B7. Donors will receive a tax receipt. For more information contact Rey Dunca at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Society and the union representing its staff have made significant contributions to refugee settlement in the past year, with The Society donating $10,000 and the Society Staff Union contributing $20,000.