Jim Estill has a strong claim to the single greatest refugee sponsor in the world.
Since 2015, he has sponsored more than 60 refugee families to come to his home town, Guelph in Ontario, Canada, where he is CEO of a major local business, Danby Appliances. Another 26 families are due to arrive in Guelph, thanks to Jim, before Christmas.
As well as devoting an enormous amount of time to this project, he employs many of the sponsored Syrians in his factory. He has also paid $1.5 million Canadian dollars from his own pocket to fund the sponsorships.
Jim is matter-of-fact about his amazing achievements. “I still don’t see what the big deal is. And I’m surprised more people don’t step up and do it”. He prefers private sponsorship to the government programme because, as he puts it, ‘you can’t hire friends’.
On his business card, Jim has printed his company’s motto ‘Do the right thing’. He applies that in his business life, he says, and took up sponsorship in the same spirit.
Jim’s story earned him a prolonged ovation at the Community Sponsorship Awards where he presented the award to the Group of the Year. While he was in London, he also met with many community sponsorship groups in person, with business leaders and with government officials.
Tareq Hadhad and his family were sponsored to come to Canada in early 2016. They were resettled in Antigonish in Novia Scotia. Tareq had planned to be a doctor, but the family had a chocolate shop in Syria and this gave him an idea for a new business in his new home town.
With the help of his private sponsors, he started up a chocolate business in a shed. It is called Peace by Chocolate and has been a huge success. It now employs more than 30 people and his chocolates have even been taken into space by astronauts on the International Peace Station.
Tareq flew to Britain especially for the Community Sponsorship Awards, courtesy of the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative and the Canadian government. He presented the Newcomers Award and backed the Citizens UK campaign to #ExtendtheWelcome so that more refugees can be resettled in Britain.
(Tareq Hadhad is pictured here with Paul Eedle from the MHMC community sponsorship group, and Syrian brothers Ahmed and Mouteb Ajaj, who resettled in London last year).