ShamRose For Syrian Culture was established in December of 2012 by a group of volunteers (Six women and one man) from the local Syrian community in Waterloo region as a response to the ongoing events in Syria. Early efforts focused on humanitarian relief and raising awareness in the community. With time, we felt the need for an organization to serve the Syrian and larger Arab-speaking community in Waterloo Region.
For the past years, ShamRose has been focusing on responding to the Syrian refugee crisis, on a local level. We are working with several sponsor groups such as churches or municipalities who are in the process of sponsoring Syrian refugee families. ShamRose continues to provide learning opportunities for those interested to learn more about Syria’s history, culture, the current crisis and ways to contribute positively to its relief. Through different presentations and workshops, ShamRose is hoping to challenge stereotypes of Syrian refugees and contribute in building a more inclusive and engaged community.
In 2014, ShamRose began to support local community members in sponsoring their loved ones through the Private Sponsorship Program. Residents of Waterloo Region can sponsor any Syrian refugees who are displaced to Lebanon and Jordan with cooperation of MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) & CLWR (Canadian Lutheran World Relief). Further, ShamRose has partnered with Trinity United Church to bring the first Syrian refugee family to Waterloo region though the BVOR (Blended Visa Office Referred) program.
As of beginning of 2016 , we have a space in The Working Centre to function as a centre to support the resettlement and integration process of refugees and immigrants in the Region. We are working with settlement and immigration agencies locally to ensure that our work complements their services and avoids overlap. Our settlement support is conducted from a peer-perspective, since we share the language and culture we are able to support refugees as peers who have the experience of resettlement in Waterloo Region.
ShamRose holds a variety of events such as fundraisers, community picnics, gatherings, charity garage sales and World Refugee Day activities. Furthermore, we run a Saturday language school, ShamRose Arabic School with the support of Trinity United Church. The school has been continuously expanding since February of 2014.
In July 2014, ShamRose registered as a Non-For-Profit Organization in Ontario. We are nonpartisan and do not have any political affiliations to any other organization. An elected board governs ShamRose, elections happen every two years and the first one was in November 2014. Our activities are run by both members and non-members.