Joan's story (Community Sponsor)
Joan is one of the members of the Lismore Welcome Project. When Joan heard about community sponsorship in March 2019, she was instantly interested in becoming involved. She had been deeply moved by the images she had seen of the humanitarian crisis - of the stories of boat journeys and the deaths on the Mediterranean. Joan had become a volunteer with newly arrived resettled refugees in Waterford but she was intrigued by the idea of being able to do something even more practical and putting her experience to use in sponsoring a Syrian refugee family. When the possibility of setting up a community group of their own in Lismore was broached, Joan was in.
I actually love the idea of working from the bottom up and having a common goal and community involvement. I think it’s wonderful. It’s very empowering for a regular community to open their doors and try something different and really test their welcoming abilities... just push the boat out and see how it goes.
Although the fundraising and securing a house seemed a little daunting at first, Joan found that it actually became a really positive thing and that it brought their own community together. People wanted to show their generosity and to give, and it was very rewarding.
The Syrian family arrived in Lismore from Lebanon in summer 2019. After an initial whirlwind of activity to help everyone settle in, the family quickly became part of the local community in Lismore. Joan says that people in the town have been really open and she's often approached by people coming up to ask her, "how’s it going with the Syrians?"
And then recently the reward came back that the family hosted a little evening of thanks for us. And that was a complete bolt out of the blue and it was great, wonderful.
If you're interested in becoming involved in setting up your own Community Sponsorship group or would like to learn more about Community Sponsorship you can contact Nasc at firstname.lastname@example.org or find more information here.