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"Refugees are people like anyone else, like you and me. They led ordinary lives before becoming displaced, and their biggest dream is to be able to live normally again."
- Ban Ki-moon
, UN Secretary-General

In This Issue
AURA Quarterly Newsletter
Summer 2015 

Welcome to AURA's 2015 Summer newsletter. All of us at AURA thank you for your continued support of our mission of assisting some of the most needy refugees in the world. It is because of people like you that we are able to run life changing programs that allow for the sponsorship and resettlement of refugees.

Around AURA
2015 AURA AGM attendees.
On May 7, AURA held our Annual General Meeting.  We would like to once again thank the many members, volunteers, and students who attended.  
AURA's Chair of the Board, Kirk Merrett, opened the evening by reflecting on the fact that AURA is a small team of dedicated staff, volunteers, students and board members, accomplishing much with very little. The statistics in the Annual Report, AURA's website and social media presence lead one to believe there is a huge team making this happen. However, this cannot be kept going with the current level of resources. AURA's future viability lies with AURA's ability to add to existing funding partners and secure new stable funding sources so it can continue the high quality of work for which it is well respected.

AURA's Manager, Ian McBride, presented awards of appreciation to outgoing placement students and spoke about AURA's extraordinary student program.  AURA has established good relationships with many colleges and universities and receives much support from placement students. Students make a genuine impact
and AURA values the fresh perspective that students
bring. Ian ended his presentation by pointing out that in 2014, AURA's growth in every sector was exceptional, which is testament to the amazing hard work of people connected with the organization. AURA's people shine through and make a difference despite all the challenges.

Events like the AGM are also a great way for the members to interact with the AURA Board. We look forward to seeing even more members at the next event. 

From left: Anna, Irmi, and Alexandra.
Changes at AURA: 
After over eight years with AURA, Sponsorship Director Alexandra Kotyk has taken a position as program manager for "Operation Syrian Lifeline".  Alexandra  has been a huge force with AURA for many years and she will be sorely missed.

Although we will all miss Alexandra, we are very pleased to announce the hiring of former AURA student Anna Lundkvist as the new Sponsorship and Administrative Assistant.

AURA is also pleased to announce that Irmtraud Hutfless has been elected as the new Treasurer of the AURA Board of Directors. 
A slide from the video show at the Peterborough event.
AURA in the Community
During the second quarter of 2015 AURA is very pleased to have been asked to speak or be part of  variety of events.  These occasions include: refugee education, refugee sponsorship information, and outreach programs.  We would like to thank the following for inviting us to be part of their events and welcoming us to share our refugee work: Seneca College, Humber College, Peterborough Refugee Sponsoring Group, Ebenezer United Church, Metropolitan United Church, All Saints King City, and Grace Church on-the-Hill.


If you would like to request an AURA speaker for one of your events, please make the request using this form.

Back row from left: Michelle Lai, Dennis Wu Front: Ian McBride.

Student Program
For the third summer AURA has been able to hire two summer students through the Canada Summer Jobs program. The competition for the positions was exceptionally strong this year.  It was extremely difficult being able to chose from the 97 very qualified applicants.
AURA is truly pleased to have Michelle Lai and Dennis Wu with us for eight weeks.  Michelle is a third year student in the Rotman Commerce Program specializing in Accounting and minoring in Human Geography.  Dennis is a first year MBA student at The Laurier School of Business.  Both bring fantastic energy, ideas and knowledge to the office and both will be working on a variety of projects throughout the summer months.
Refugee News
World Refugee Day: 
The world is facing a staggering crisis as the number of forcibly displaced people rises to record numbers - 59.5 million at the end of 2014.  World Refugee Day, a day to remember those who have been forced from their homes in order to save their lives, a day to reflect on refugees' strength and perseverance to begin new lives.

If you missed it, please take a moment to watch our World Refugee Day Video: Watch Video.
Danger for Refugees at Sea:
An incredible number of people have been lost so far this year as they try to cross the Mediterranean.
The UNHCR estimates that already several thousand refugees and migrants have died among the over 100,000 who have attempted the trip. Record numbers of the refugees are attempting the crossing in flimsy rubber dinghies and wooden boats.  Over half of the daily arrivals, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, end up washing ashore on small Greek island. Read More
The situation is eerily similar to the conditions the world faced in the 1970s when enormous numbers attempted to feel from the danger of post war Vietnam.


Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
The 2015 National SAH Conference was held in Winnipeg, Manitoba May 24- 26. The annual conference is an opportunity for all Sponsorship Agreement Holders, like AURA, from across the country to interact and be directly updated by: the Federal governmental departments that oversee refugee sponsorship, overseas organizations that work directly with refugees, and the SAH association. 

Winnipeg also happens to be home to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.  Alex Hauschildt, our Communications Director, was able to tour the museum before the conference started. For all of us who work and/or support human rights issues its definitely worth a visit.
Constituent Group Spotlight
The children of the family Headwaters is supporting. Picture taken before the civil war in Syria began.
The Headwaters Refugee Sponsorship group:
The Headwaters group, based around the Orangeville area, are working towards supporting a refugee family of four. They have been designated as UNHCR refugees but must still pass a rigorous process (security, medical etc.) by the Canadian government in order to be cleared to come to Canada. The Headwaters Refugee Sponsorship organization has about 50 local supporting members assigned various tasks in preparation for the family's arrival, including: housing, ESL, education and medical options and needs for the family. Read the full story

Share Your Refugee Stories

If you would like your group's event promoted by AURA or you have a refugee story you would like to share, please tell us here.

Social Media Highlights
Annual Report Highlights:
After the AGM in May we were able to share the 2014 Annual report highlights. To read the full Annual Report:please click here.
The Great Canadian Giving Challenge: 
This June marked the first Great Canadian Giving Challenge. In it every $1 donated to AURA online gave us a chance to win a $10,000 donation. 

Unfortunately we did not win the $10,000 dollar donation, but we would like to thank everyone who was able to participate. The generosity of our donors is always remarkable!

To see more about the Great Canadian Giving Challenge click here.
Words of Wisdom:
Look for AURA's words of wisdom weekly by following #MondayMotivation or #WednesdayWisdom
Friday Facts: #FridayFacts have returned, look for them every Friday on many of our social media channels.
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To stay up to date with all of AURA's social media efforts, make sure you are following us on  Twitter,  Facebook and YouTube. Simply by connecting with
us on social media you can make a huge difference
by helping to spread our message.  

Volunteer Corner
Volunteering with AURA
AURA relies on the skills, time, and heart of our volunteers to support our mission
to help refugees.
Without the generous contributions by our volunteers, we would not be able to help as many refugees.

To learn more about volunteering at AURA, please click here.