NEST Stands for North End Sponsorship Team
NEST is a voluntary association of faith groups and individuals who have joined together to sponsor refugees.
It has its origins in the cooperative ministry of three churches located in the North End of Winnipeg, MB in 1986. This area has traditionally been a refuge for immigrants and refugees seeking justice and opportunity. The Social Gospel has always had strong roots in this area. NEST bases its acronym and action on Biblical passages such as Psalm 84:3 (“Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young…” NRSV) and Luke 9:57 (Jesus said: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” NRSV).
From its origins NEST has grown into an ecumenical interfaith organization, whose members are drawn from various faiths and churches, and includes former refugees sponsored by NEST. Since NEST’s beginnings,we have sponsored 176 refugees from 18 countries including:
- El Salvador
- Myanmar (formerly known as Burma)
- Sierra Leone
As well, NEST has provided caregiving and assistance to additional refugees who have asked or been referred to NEST for help.
NEST Stands for Justice
‘Refugee’ is not a new concept. Throughout history, people have been displaced by oppressive governments, persecuted for their religious and political convictions, and victimized simply for being themselves. They have been forced from their homes, torn from their families and friends, and prohibited from following their way of life.As refugees, they found themselves in need of a new home, and another chance. The first generation of many Canadian families lived through such persecution, coming to Canada as refugees. Sadly,’refugee’ is not a concept of the past. Today, a record 50 million people, a number greater than the entire population of Canada, are displaced from their homes by “a well-founded fear of persecution, for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion and are unable, or, by reason of such fear, unwilling to return”…(from the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees). Recognizing such persecution to be a gross injustice, NEST is committed to providing sanctuary in Canada for displaced peoples.We are inspired by the words of Christ who urged us to welcome the stranger, and to work for justice in the human family.
NEST Stands for Friendship
Individual members of NEST volunteer to act as primary care givers for a particular refugee or refugee family. Responsibilities of primary caregivers include:
- welcoming the refugees upon their arrival to Winnipeg
- helping refugees adjust to life in Canada (how to shop, do banking, visit the doctor, get around the city)
- maintaining a supportive relationship through visits and phone calls
Caregivers experience much joy and satisfaction when refugees are able to put away fear and stress, and take up and thrive in a new life in Canada. While learning about other cultures, customs and cuisine, they develop deep and lasting friendships. What is more, former refugees become active partners with NEST, offering their experience and friendship to other refugees.
NEST Stands for Community
NEST is truly a team effort. We meet on a regular basis not only to attend to business, but to keep in touch with one another. An integral part of any given NEST meeting is the time we devote to sharing our experiences as primary care givers, as people newly arrived to Canada, and as friends. We also hold social events several times throughout the year where we can enjoy each others company. We celebrate the Canadian winter with a day of outdoor activities. We also enjoy the gentler Canadian summers with an annual picnic. In spring or fall, NEST holds a Day of Reflection, a day-long retreat where we discuss issues important to refugee sponsorship,where we share our stories and support each other. NEST also holds several potluck dinners throughout the year hosted by the various congregations of NEST. These times of fellowship are open to the wider community of NEST supporters, and to anyone wishing to learn more about NEST. Guest speakers provide an opportunity for education on issues related to refugees and refugee sponsorship. Song and dance groups of various ethnic backgrounds provide lively entertainment. And a NEST potluck dinner is always pleasing to the palate offering a wide variety of dishes to sample.