There are moments in life that need to be celebrated. There are remarkable milestones that stand proudly for the accomplishments of a team, the dedication of their supporters and the gratitude of their beneficiaries. By the end of August 2011, Vision First spent the first one Million Dollars on direct welfare to its members, solving their most pressing needs. It should be noted that we pay *zero* dollars in salaries, rent and administration, which guarantees that every cent is meticulously dedicated to relieving hardship were it’s most acute. Despite the scourge of inflation, 1,000,000 dollars is a lot of money! Most significantly, given our broad donor base – whose generosity made this possible! – this amount reflects the kindness of everyone who took to heart the plight of refugees and stepped up to make a real difference. To each of you, our 400 grateful members offer the sincerest: “THANK YOU!”
Today we honour each donor on behalf of the dozens of refugees we assist daily, those visiting our centre with needs nobody else can meet, those relying on us to solve overwhelming difficulties, those made destitute by an existence they never imagined back home. When they thank us, they are really thanking you. When they praise and bless us, we transfer it back to you! It is said that a refugee is an ordinary person in an extraordinary situation, and we are simply honoured to alleviate somewhat the cruel fate that uprooted and brought them cap-in-hand to our doorstep. When confronting the horrors of which humans are capable (Homo homini lupus est), it’s impossible to remark, “I know how you feel!” Nobody but fellow refugees can sympathize with the calamity of exile, the shame of destitution and the heartache of loneliness that seeking asylum entail. However, the single most important role Vision First plays is undoubtedly being People who care – dedicated citizens who rise above the humdrum of society and the meaningless preoccupations of modern life to truly be their brother’s keeper.
This has been an outstanding year already: we serve 400 members monthly with our cutting-edge Online Booking System, we opened a rent-free office, we launched the only refugee shelter in town, we raised a record 180,000$ in one event and have distributed 1,000,000$ in real, tangible assistance! As far as charity goes, we are proud that Vision First has raised the standard again. We think different, we act different and we make the difference. Who would have guessed this band of friends could have inspired so many without institutional sponsorship or corporate backing? Two years ago we were challenged with, “What is the sense of such a small effort when there are thousands of asylum-seekers?” Doubt never infected our hearts: the Great Wall of China was built one brick at a time and every journey starts with one small step. No effort is too small when helping others and by casting our pebble into the pond, it was the ripples that inspired others to join our efforts to make Vision First the success it is today. Why sit down and feel helpless when there is so much suffering in the world, indeed, in our city? Why accept a rotten system when you can create a better one? Reaching the first million was hard work. It took the sacrifices and resoluteness of many passionate individuals who gave up much to achieve a shared dream. Today nobody doubts we will reach ten million dollars in the coming years … cautioned by Fyodor Dostoevsky’s reminder that, “Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams!”