Sarah Snider didn’t envision herself working with refugees. Like many Canadian university students, she didn’t have the slightest clue where she might end up. But as a third-year Social Work, Sociology and Psychology student, Snider took part in an internship that completely altered her direction. Two years later, she is, along with her husband, Matt, a night manager at Micah House. She’s also the operations director for Karam Kitchen. Based in Hamilton, Ont., both of these organizations are committed to walking alongside refugees and newcomers to Canada.
“Being a part of people’s day-to-day life is the most rewarding part of my work,” Snider says. “In our North American culture, we don’t often do life intimately with anyone outside of our immediate family. In my work, I get to be a part of real life with people. It’s hard but so beautiful. I feel privileged to be a part of so many people’s journeys and families here in Canada.”
“In our North American culture, we don’t often do life intimately with anyone outside of our immediate family.”
Many refugee claimants arrive in Canada with nowhere to go — Micah House exists to provide support in these circumstances. Founded in 2006, Micah House is a shelter and settlement support service provider in downtown Hamilton for newly arrived refugee claimants. “Individuals are coming to live at Micah House during a very intense season of their lives,” says Snider. “My husband and I are able to come alongside them and share life together.” Since their wedding in 2016, Sarah and Matt have coordinated evening and weekend volunteers and provided support for residents as Micah House’s night managers.
Karam Kitchen, a social enterprise and catering company launched in September 2016 through a Kickstarter campaign, takes the support of Micah House a step further. Karam is an Arabic word that roughly translates to “generosity” in English. At the kitchen’s helm, five Syrian women — Dalal, Manahel, Rawa’a, Wafa’a and Ektimal — are generous with their talents. The focus of the company is to employ and empower newcomer women who have come to Hamilton in the wake of a refugee crisis. Snider joined in November, two months after Karam Kitchen’s official launch. As an operations director, she works on sourcing, professional development, staff scheduling and supervising the day-to-day operations at the kitchen.
Snider’s faith is the driver behind these two roles, both of which are greatly intertwined with the biblical mandate to welcome the stranger. “My faith is what sustains me when things are difficult, my faith is what allows me to see the beauty in my work, and my faith is what pushes me to continue,” she says. “God calls us to love our neighbour as ourselves; He calls us to welcome the stranger. He calls us to do difficult stuff. As Christians, answering these calls is not optional.”
If you ask Snider how her jobs make her feel, she’ll be blunt. “I don’t think my work is all that unique or special,” she says. “I’m just answering God’s call in this particular way. Others are answering these same calls in all sorts of other capacities that are equally important to the Kingdom work that God has called us to.”
In August 2017, Nina Drenth (née Schuurman) ’17, along with her husband, David, have accepted the positions of night managers at Micah House, taking over for Matt and Sarah Snider.