We're more or less ready, as a group. We've had several meetings to get to know each other, learn about the process, and discuss how we will function. We seem to have some commonalities of what motivates us: a variable blend of social action, civic responsibility, and a chafing to do something to alleviate suffering. For myself, I think I've found a balance of excitement and apprehension about embarking on this journey.
Then there is the irony of the Syrian refugees. Our group--I think like many--started because we were moved to action by the continued terrible desperation in Syria. Four million Syrians have now fled their country since the conflict began. The Canadian government announced early this year that they would accept an additional 10 000 Syrian refugees. But there are no Syrians "available" on the lists of government-approved refugees awaiting settlement, despite that many other groups are waiting and willing to help them settle. There is a bureaucratic bottleneck somewhere. I think it's tragic.
We've decided that there are many people in great need, so we will not insist on Syrians. Indeed, there are many hidden conflicts and forgotten human rights issues. The lists include Eritreans, Congolese, Burmese, and others. The Syrian crisis motivated many of us; I can only hope that our motivation can also benefit the Syrian people who have been affected.
By Wendy Lai