Ron Rosell has advice for anyone thinking of sponsoring a refugee: Do it. But know what you’re getting into, and don’t do it unless you mean it.
And you can trust his advice, he’s sponsored four refugees himself: two couples late last year, some of the first Syrians to make it to Canada.
And he plans to to it again.
The Vancouver software developer says there are plenty of challenges involved. He’s spent tens of thousands of dollars, helped people find work, find homes, and buy dishes. He even took care of a serious vet bill for one couple who couldn’t bear to leave their dog behind.
Why? “I became friends with them,” Rosell says. He says he got to know them well on social media as they ground slowly through the application process, and even visited them overseas. “I developed an emotional investment.”
But when it comes down to recommending whether other people should take refugees in, Rosell is cautious. He says potential sponsors need to be realistic about what they are doing.
Sponsoring a refugee means committing to helping them navigate a different culture. And he says it means being aware you might be living with someone dealing with emotional stress or survivor guilt, and who might be crushed their professional credentials aren’t recognized here.
“It’s important for people to have a conversation with themselves about what their best path of involvement is, because having people live in your home is not always a great idea. It might seem like a great idea in the heat of the moment, but it can, down the road, lead to problems. But for some people it’s perfect.”
He says he strongly encourages people to get involved. But he warns if people aren’t willing to go all-in, there are plenty of other ways to help, including by donating financially.
Rosell says the big challenge now is for the government to cut red tape and make it easier for people to sponsor refugees trapped in countries like Turkey.
He’s now working to bring two more Syrian families, as well as three individuals to Canada as they flee the war.