Profiles of those Making a Difference at CCS. This month we’re featuring May Amouri, and how she has supported people in making Canada their new home.

May Amouri is a Settlement Support Connection Facilitator with the RSTP (Refugee Sponsorship Training Program). Graduated from the University of Aleppo with a major in English Literature and Humanitarian studies, and a postgraduate diploma in English and Arabic language translation and interpretation.

She began her career overseas and worked for several years for an international gas and pipeline Contracting Company who was at the same time the agent for DHL express courier in Syria, where she negotiated contracts, wages, recruited personnel, booked flights, managed timesheets, and provided administrative support to the CEO of the company and also acted as a liaison person for the DHL Express courier office managers and the CEO.

In Canada, worked for several years at DAC Group in their head office in Toronto, Ontario as an Operations Data Specialist, supporting five office in the USA and Canada.  While working at DAC, she was working for the Toronto Catholic School Board on Saturdays as an International Language teacher. She also completed few courses at Seneca College towards careers in humanitarian fields, and an intermediate French course at Ryerson University (now known as Toronto Metropolitan University).

During the 2015 Syrian Crisis, being a Syrian-Canadian, felt the need to take a break from work and help Syrian refugees come to safety including her own relatives. Started with completing the sponsorship application for her nephew and at the same time volunteering at a church-based sponsoring group. She heard about RSTP from friends who were involved in a Group of Five sponsorship. Completed the RSTP’s E-Training Course on the PSR (Private Sponsorship of Refugees) program and started volunteering at CCS to support the RSTP program.

Hired for few short contracts with with RSTP until she was offered a full-time position in 2017 as RSTP Trainer supporting mainly Groups of Five and Community Sponsors in the GTA. In addition to her role as a trainer, in 2019 she participated in a pilot project for CCS as a part of OCASI’s Allies in Refugee Integration research project. And in 2020 took on a new role as a PSR-SPO Connection project facilitator where she facilitated the connection between sponsors, sponsored refugees and settlement workers across the provinces (except for Quebec).

During the Syrian Crisis, she was able to help Syrian refugees with seven sponsorships for relatives and friends, as well as a church group sponsorship for a family of four. She made sure they were informed, supported and connected with the necessary resources and helped them build community connections. May continues to look for ways to support the sponsoring community and the newcomers of diverse population through her personal and professional life at CCS and through other partners and networks developed over the years.

“We are all connected, even though we come from different places, races, ethnicities, genders, and colours, we have same basic needs and aspirations to live in safety, lead a successful life, and make a positive impact in our communities and beyond. Making a difference in one person’s life, impacts all of us.

My work gives me an opportunity to connect with diverse population and learn about their cultures. When guiding sponsors on their sponsorship applications, I always put myself in their shoes to make it easy for them to understand the application process, forms they need to complete and how to complete them, and also answer their questions in a clear and simple way, and listen with empathy to their stories, the struggle they have here in Canada and that of their families in a refugee camp or a host country (you cannot find this in any manual, it is the outcome of lessons I learnt in life, and from the love and compassion I received from others. Now it is my turn to put it into practice as I interact with others). Once the sponsorship application is successful and the refugees are here in Canada, reunited with their relatives, friends, and family members, I see the smile in the eyes, I hear the joy in the voices, and this what makes my work meaningful and rewarding.

I feel so lucky to be working at CCS, where I have the opportunity to help others. Yes, my journey at CCS started with the sponsorship of Syrian refugees, but continues beyond one population.” – May Amouri