Ahmed and family.
In 2015, the plight of the Syrian community became known globally when news broadcasts all over the world informed people about the suffering that many Syrians endured. Due to the Syrian civil war crisis, there are nearly 5.6 million refugees and 6.2 million individuals displaced, half of those being children. The impact of sponsoring a newcomer can ripple into the community as was the case with Stan and Ahmed. Stan provided a helping hand by sponsoring Ahmed’s family residing in Syria, who now give back to their community in Canada by helping those seeking refuge.


After a flourishing sponsorship with Ahmed’s family, Stan decided to join the Board of Directors with AURA in 2017 where he learned about Ride for Refuge. Ride for Refuge is a charity event where Canadians nationally unite to create awareness and raise funds for individuals that are in jeopardy of being persecuted, displaced, exploited, or abused. Stan took this event as an opportunity to continue his efforts. In 2017, he decided to start a couple of teams and has been participating for 4 years since. Moreover, Stan explained that the Ride for Refuge "was an opportunity to raise money for refugees but also several charities that assist with refuge including, women and first nations". He further stated, "it broadened mine and AURA’s horizons of refuge, as there are many Canadians seeking refuge as well."


AURA Ahmed Wheelers, 2020
Over the course of 4 years, Stan participated in Ride for Refuge in several cities, and in 2019, he had the honor to be accompanied by Ahmed. Ahmed wanted to help others overcome barriers similar to the experiences that transpired during his journey. This was a great chance for Ahmed and his team to advocate for the suffering that often goes overlooked. The team consisted of Ahmed’s family and his sponsorship group where he has proudly participated for 2 years and hopes to continue for many more. Through multiple teams in several cities, they walked and cycled to reach their goal.


Ahmed on the 2020 Ride.
AURA’s initial goal was to raise $15,000, they were able to double this amount at $30,913 due to the assistance of Ahmed and Stan’s teams. Ahmed rode 10 km raising nearly $3,060, ranking his team among the top 3 fundraisers from AURA. This was an incredible achievement considering our current circumstances with the pandemic. Stan explained that his most memorable experience was seeing Ahmed smile during the Ride for Refuge cycling. "He had a terrible situation to escape from the crisis in Syria, he was bombed out of his home in Aleppo and now he's making a great life in Canada with great support. Seeing him happy and build these relationships, is very heartwarming". Ahmed’s growth from overcoming these adversities to becoming a team leader substantiates the power that refugee sponsorships can create.


Although we can't understand what they're experiencing, through advocation, Stan was able to learn how many people wanted to support those seeking refuge. "Each time you participate with other charities like Ride for Refuge, you realize how big the issue for refugees truly are", stressing the importance of getting involved. We need to increase efforts to build awareness and create different methods for people to get involved, similar to Ride for Refuge. "Differences are made when it comes from the heart and not just the mind. It isn't something that you rationalize rather it's something you just have to do. It's truly an unimaginable experience".