© UNHCR/Jimmy Jeong

The spirit of kindness: Refugees, host communities and Canadians rally around each other

Around the world, displaced and host communities have come together to show acts of kindness to one another. And right here in Canada, newly resettled refugees and Canadian sponsors are supporting each other in so many ways.


Refugees and displaced communities have drastically different experiences: many are displaced inside their countries, others have crossed seas and borders to find safety and some have been resettled in Canada. What unites them are acts of kindness they have exchanged along their journey. Here are five heartwarming stories about refugees, host communities and Canadians embracing the spirit of kindness.

Ripples of kindness across decades in Canada

Forty years ago, Father Gauthier, a priest at a church near Edmonton, Alberta asked for volunteers to help sponsor a family of Vietnamese refugees. Though Vicky and Leona were two busy young mothers with children of their own, they didn’t hesitate to help. Soon after, they were matched with Mrs. Tran, a Vietnamese widow of six children who had languished for months in a Malaysian refugee camp. The families became close friends, celebrating birthdays and weddings together. The youngest Tran daughter, Nhung, later became a doctor. Inspired by the kindness her family was shown and saddened by the images of war in Syria in 2015, Nhung became a refugee sponsor as well. Decades after her family came to Canada through the kindness of two strangers, Nhung was able to extend the circle of generosity by welcoming two Syrian families through private sponsorship.

Syrian refugees help Swiss communities during COVID-19

Marie-Claude is a retired doctor living alone in Switzerland. Concerned about her exposure to COVID-19, she tried not to leave the house. That’s when the phone rang and her friend Shadi, a Syrian refugee, asked how he could help. “He almost became a son,” says Marie-Claude of Shadi, who mobilized other volunteers to help run errands for seniors during the pandemic.

“We are a group of Syrian refugees, ready to help you stay at home by doing your shopping,” Shadi says to the Swiss community. Their kindness has helped almost 200 people stay safe from COVID-19.

Advocates worldwide commit to kindness this winter

© UNHCR/Houssam Hariri

You know the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you do something good? This winter, refugee advocates from around the world are doing just that by committing to kindness and helping refugees stay warm this winter. Winter in the Middle East leaves many people cold and in need, like Shakiba, 67, and her husband Hassan, 83. They were forced to flee war-torn Syria six years ago. Now living in a camp in Lebanon, they were trapped in their home last winter.

“I swear, the snow reached up to the windows. We couldn’t open the door.”

This year, the couple is scared they will have to burn their belongings for heat. But Canadians and advocates around the world are coming together to donate to spread kindness to refugee families. Sometimes, kindness feels like a warm blanket in a safe, dry home. Show kindness today.

Refugees in South Africa share acts of kindness with their host community

© UNHCR/Hélène Caux

Saeed was just 17 when he was forced to flee Somalia’s civil war in 1991. In the years since, he’s built a successful career as a banker, becoming a part of a tight-knit community of refugees in South Africa. During the coronavirus pandemic, he’s been able to pay his good fortune forward. The community launched a care and compassion campaign in the spring of 2020 to help people who were struggling. They started by distributing masks, hand sanitizer and food. At the heart of the operation is Saeed, who is fuelled by the memories of kindness he experienced when he was uprooted from his home country.

“People gave us food and a place to sleep. I remember,” he says.

Saeed and the other helpers say they want to give back to the host community whose acts of kindness years ago were a lifeline to them.

Canadians help newly resettled Congolese refugees celebrate the holidays

© UNHCR/Jimmy Jeong

It took the kindness of five Canadian families to sponsor the Ngage family, refugees who fled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nicole and Karina were two of the many advocates who worked to bring Delphin and Atosha to Canada where they could find safety. Through the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) program, Nicole and Karina were able to rally their friends to privately sponsor the family. The experience of sponsoring a refugee family has had an amazing impact on all the families involved.

“You can teach your children to be kind and empathetic,” Nicole says.

“But to actually give them the opportunity to see how kindness and empathy actually changes people’s lives… those things are not installed in a child the same way as experiencing it.”

A little kindness goes a long way. Be kind to a refugee family and donate to help save a life.



UNHCR Canada

The UN Refugee Agency in Canada is dedicated to providing life-saving support to refugees, displaced and stateless people.