As a team we’re always looking for fun things we can do outside of the office that keeps us motivated and inspired. I can always depend on my colleague, Fatima, to come up with creative ideas and when she suggested a dinner put on by Purpose I was intrigued.
Purpose is an organization that “builds and supports movements to advance the fight for an open, just, and habitable world.” One of their current missions is to lessen the stigma that surrounds refugees. Out of this mission they’ve created Refugees Welcome, a dinner series where businesses, organizations or just a group of friends can host a dinner where they can welcome refugees into their communities.
When Fatima pitched the idea to the team everyone was in right away. We reached out to one of our favourite spots in Yorkville, Bar Reyna, and the fabulous owner, Nicki, had no questions about hosting us. Within a few days we had the whole thing planned; we were teaming up with Purpose and Refugees Welcome to grab some food with some newcomers to our little big city and we were excited.
Over dinner on Bar Reyna’s sweet secret garden patio we met with 8 Refugees from all over the world. Though we wore name tags, the dinner was informal and fun. I had the absolute pleasure of sharing a table with Karen Francis, Executive Director of Matthew House – an organization that helps resettle new Refugee claimants – and Ibrahim, a former resident of said House. Through their conversation I was able to see the real connection between the two. Ibrahim had appeared one night after 10pm at Matthew House and though Karen had no more room, she made up the couch for him. After getting to know Ibrahim and his harrowing story, Karen worked to get him a permanent spot at Matthew House which would eventually be integral in helping him become a permanent Canadian resident.
During our conversations with these newcomers we were all quick to realize two things: we are so fortunate to live where we do, in a peaceful country with respect for human rights, and that we are all far more similar than we think. Whether from North Sudan, Syria, the US or Canada, we all want to love and be loved, to feel safe and to feel free.
Thank you so much to the people of Purpose for creating such an incredible movement that we were able to be a part of. If you or anyone you know is interested in hosting your own Refugees Welcome dinner I encourage you to follow the link HERE and find out more.
Photos by Samantha Clarke