Action is The Only Change Agent

dfbe57d8-b792-467e-abfb-821aa2fee241As much as I try, this holiday season it’s especially difficult to focus on decorated trees, baking cookies or the traditional winter activities I enjoy. This year, my thoughts are spread across the world, with the 12 million innocent Syrians who have been displaced from their homes. This year, instead of buying gifts for my loved ones who already have everything they need, I vow to make a difference for a family who struggles with survival. My career revolves around celebrating diversity and cultivating cross-cultural peace, so this disaster in Syria is deeply close to my heart. This is the largest mass migration since WW2. I am relentlessly compelled to do something about it… so I started the Victoria Refugee Initiative with a few friends.

03204465-0182-41cb-b5fd-f8812d27a2e5Our goal is to resettle a Syrian refugee family in Victoria and support them financially and emotionally for their first year in Canada. We’ll be intimately working with the family of 5; everything from helping them find jobs to navigating the grocery store and childcare. Watching the news, it can seem like the world is spiraling out of control. I thought I would feel hopeless, but every small step is a mini celebration that moves us closer to our goal. Yesterday in my meditation, it spontaneously occurred to me: I am not helpless. Through this project, I’ve come to a new level of awareness about the impact a small team of people can have on the world.

Margaret Mead says:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

4f669b5c-7805-4067-98c5-c38ccfaaabdcWith these wise words in mind, Victoria Refugee Initiative is passionately moving forward in supporting a family to start a new life. You never know! Maybe the mother will be compelled to work with the homeless population in our city. Maybe the father will land a job that will support his son’s passion for music. Maybe the daughter will grow up to discover a cure for cancer. We have no idea what impact our actions will have, but somewhere deep inside, I know that when I act with compassion in the world, it will be amplified in ways I couldn’t possibly imagine. Love is magic. It multiplies. In the spirit of compassion and with the heart of this season in mind, I ask you to step forward and join us in giving this family a second chance. They are scheduled to arrive in Victoria sometime between February and April, 2016 so we are urgently looking for help to reach our goal of $42,000 by February 29, 2016. All donations are processed through a registered Canadian charity, are 100% tax deductible and 100% of funds go directly to supporting the family.

The best part of this type sponsorship is its rate of effectiveness. Private sponsorship is the most effective way to help refugees rehabilitate from trauma and become self-supporting. This is likely because they benefit from the contacts, local knowledge and personal attention of their sponsors, who have a real stake in their successful integration into society. Let’s do more than change our Facebook profile photos in solidarity or ‘Like’ a page to show support. Let’s put our values in action, people! Let’s show that hearts in Victoria are open. We are not helpless. Together, we are a force that will change the world.

Take Action Now:

1. DONATE HERE: This is the most urgent and important way we need your support. Please give generously. Monthly donations are especially helpful.

2. IN-KIND DONATIONS: We are looking for a list of items like furniture, clothing and accommodation. The list is on our website (link: We’re happy to take your extra stuff off your hands. We can arrange pickup. Email Nina at

3. VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME: We will need help with on-going tasks once the family arrives such as transportation to job interviews, childcare, checking in with the family, Arabic translation services, assistance in getting to know Canadian cultures and customs, possibly therapy. If you feel called to volunteer your time, email Nina at

4. SPREAD THE WORD: Tell your friends, family and neighbour’s dog. Like our group on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. The wider our community reach, the more support the family will have in their new home. Visit our website for more information or to connect with us about how you can be a part of the support network for a family new to Canada.

Victoria Refugee Initiative


Author: Nina Hirlaender

We are a citizen-led sponsorship initiative dedicated to helping a Syrian refugee family resettle in our community of Victoria, British Columbia. We are partnered with the Anglican Diocese of BC as a ‘Constituency Group’ according to the legal structure set out by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Our focus is strictly all-inclusive and humanitarian. While the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia, as our partner is a religious institution, our group’s values, motives and actions are based on non-denominational, humanitarian efforts. More information.