RECAP: Painting Refugee Homes with GIBC

By Sandra Lee

“Across the country, Canadians have been saying that we should do more to help Syrian refugees. We must do more and we are. All Canadians will need to join together in welcoming and lending their support to this community in need.”

– Hon. John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

As of today, we are looking at 28,876 Syrian refugees in Canada.

When you think about refugees, what kind of questions do you have in mind? It’s all over the news; how hard these people have it, why they have to get away, why they have to come here. But it’s kind of weird when you think about it. How many times have you been asked, “if you were stranded on an island and you could only bring 3 things, what would they be?”

What did they bring?

Melissa Flemming, head of communications for the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees, made a speech about helping refugees thrive. In her lecture, she talked about a Syrian boy. She asked him this question.

He said, “I took my high school diploma because my life depended on it.”

He would risk his life to get that diploma. On his way to school, he would dodge snipers, and his classroom sometimes shook with the sound of bombs and shelling, His mother said,”Every day, I would say to him… ‘Honey, please don’t go to school.'” When he insisted, she said, “I would hug him as if it were for the last time.” But he said to his mother, “We’re all afraid, but our determination to graduate is stronger than our fear.”

The lives of these refugees; this is important to know.

About two weeks ago, a group of our Rovers organized an impromptu community service project with Grace International Baptist Church to help refurbish sections of a house to make it a refugee home. The ground level floor, with a living room, one laundry room, kitchen, and three bedrooms, were repainted and redecorated. In one afternoon, members of the church along with some Scouters and Rovers joined together to repaint the entire first floor. I asked one of our Rovers what he thought about the project:

(Victor Chan: Vice President): We’re helping a refugee family to start a new life in this country. When we took a break around noon, the Pastor and the church volunteers expressed great appreciation for our support, and even said that if it wasn’t for us, it may have taken them another full day just to get the house ready.

The Pastor and the church members that volunteered with us were very courteous to us. Even though it was our first time meeting, they made us feel like we were already part of their community: they asked us different questions to get to know us more, tell us about their life and their stories, and created an amazing environment to volunteer at. We’re giving back to a community that has been supportive of our Rover crew. It’s also a great opportunity for us to reach out to an international community at a local level.

It was definitely a memorable service for me, and it made me feel like I was making a difference with these people, who have the same intentions I have to create a better world as a Scout.

To me, GIBC is a welcoming church community that understands the Scouting principles and values. They are a group of people also dedicated to creating a better world by helping others and putting others ahead of themselves. They are also a sponsor of our Rover crew, who have been offering their church property to us for our management meetings, and for that, I’m truly grateful for their generosity.
For more information about this project, please visit our Facebook and Twitter, and visit the Grace International Baptist Church’s page.

Many thanks to Sherwin-Williams Paints whose generous donation of paint made this project possible.

Sandra Lee

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