In 2015 the severity of the Syrian refugee crisis was recognized by much of the world’s population when a photo of a young Syrian boy’s body washed up onto a Turkish beach circulated the Internet. While the Syrian conflict has been going on for nearly five years now, more attention is being brought to it and the refugee situation it has caused.
At King’s, Micah Zionce and Sam Hodgkins-Sumner are working toward the goal of reunifying a Syrian family within the Halifax community. They are co-chairs of the King’s chapter of the Saint George Refugee Sponsorship.
Earlier this year Zionce and Hodgkins-Sumner approached faculty at King’s with the intention of supporting a Syrian family. This lead to a connection being formed between King’s and Saint George’s that has so far seen success. The Saint George Refugee Sponsorship has collaborated with various community members and groups, including King’s, and is on track to sponsor a family. To get it started, they first approached the board of governors and faculty of King’s.
“We’ve spoken at the board of governors meeting and the faculty meeting and they’ve been really supportive,” said Hodgkins-Sumner. “I think it’s a really good way to rally support. Not just the financial support but in terms of building a community around these people.”
The group has recently received information about the family they will be supporting. They are about to be a family of five. While the group was originally planning for them to arrive by late January or early February, it has been pushed back a bit due to the pregnancy.
As students themselves, Zionce and Hodgkins-Sumner say it is important to be conscious of what is going on in the world.
“I think it’s important for us as university students to take a step back, take a step off campus and really realize the larger problems in the world as a whole,” said Zionce.
“The Syrian crisis is just one of those.”
He says this initiative helped him put into perspective everything he takes for granted—a college education, running water. “I feel like this project has really helped me be more grateful for things that I never would have thought of beforehand.”
When they were first starting the initiative at King’s, one of the first people they spoke to was Nick Hatt, dean of students. He says Zionce and Hodgkins-Sumner have really spearheaded the entire thing at King’s. They made the presentations to faculty and the board of governors, and took other steps to create the connections they currently have.
“It’s important for us to extend an offer of friendship, to recognize that in those offers of friendship we must expect nothing in return,” said Hatt.
“Simply to recognize that in helping those who are fleeing from violence we recognize that when anybody in this world is in pain, or in hurting we must do everything we can to help one another.”
Another member of the King’s community involved in the initiative is Father Thorne. He says, “No matter what your intention and no matter what your reason or purpose for participating in the bringing of Syrian refugees it’s a good thing and no matter whether it’s good for you or not it’s certainly good for them.”
This semester there will be fundraising events for the initiative, including a benefit concert in the Chapel.