Faith-based coalition approved for Syrian family

Refugee sponsors, volunteers ‘waiting for the phone call’

Volunteers are working furiously to prepare for a Syran refugee family that could arrive in the community at any moment.

“We have been approved for a family … a mother and father and two children. We don’t know much more than that. We are anticipating, given the fact that our application was ushered through so quickly, that they could arrive anytime,” said Gaye Sharpe, of the Refugee Sponsorship Steering Committee.

“We’ve been told to prepare for them and that’s what we’re doing – we’re waiting for the phone call.”

The family would be the first sponsored by the partnership of Oak Bay United, St. Aidan’s United in Saanich and Masjid Al-Iman mosque in Victoria.

With a “spectacular” response from the communities, Sharpe says once the first family is settled, they anticipate seeking out a second sponsor family.

The initial goal of bringing one family grew to two, but they have the money and volunteer time and energy raised to nearly support two.

“It seems certainly that we almost have enough money right now to bring two and the fundraising efforts have not stopped and people are continuing to give. As long as people keep giving we will not stop,” Sharpe said.

Volunteer offers of professional services range from dental and medical to psychologists experienced with patients with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“It goes the gamut – ESL teachers, people who have worked in refugee camps who are able to support traumatized children and youth. We don’t know if that’s the situation, but I think we can be sure that they’ve had considerable upset in their lives,” Sharpe said. “Having to leave everything would be traumatic enough let alone leaving a war zone.”

The group has far exceeded their target for one family – $60,000 for a year, a little higher than the government standard minimum due to the cost of living in Victoria – with $100,000 in the bank.

“People walk into the office at the church on a daily basis it seems to give donations,” Sharpe said.

The group also has temporary housing in place, so the family can be involved in choosing a home, should the phone ring.

“The great gift of working with the mosque is there are people who speak the language, and there are people who are Syrian,” Sharpe said.

They’ll task one male and one female mentor to connect with the family. “They’ll be people who can walk along with the family through the whole process of getting to know Victoria. That way there’s not a cast of thousands involved all the time.”

That privacy is a key consideration for the steering committee and should the phone ring today, or yesterday, very few people may actually know.

“We’ll leave it up to the family if they want to be involved with the media,” she said. “We want to make sure the family’s privacy is respected and that they’re safe. Almost everyone is welcoming and very excited to help them make Victoria a home, but there are some people who are nervous and afraid. That’s the other thing we need to be cognizant of.”

Search for refugee sponsorship at oakbay-unitedchurch.ca to make donations online.

 

 

Just Posted

Hundreds gather at fundraising kickoff for ‘Kings Park’ purchase

Campaign to raise $2.75 million for the District of Saanich underway

Cloudy skies ahead for Thursday

Plus a look ahead at your weekend

Poutine With Purpose Pub Crawl supports local charity

Enjoy a pub favourite while helping to feed local kids

Spooky meets retro at the Victoria Vintage Halloween Fair

It’s never to early to start planning your costume

Oak Bay grants 60 days of protection for century-old mansion

J.W. Morris House slated for removal by Abstract Developments

Sealand was much more than killer whales, says ex-employee

Former Sealasd trainer revisits Sealand of the Pacific in talk

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of September 17

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should the province step in to upgrade the road to Bamfield?

The death of two University of Victoria students on a bus bound… Continue reading

35 of 87 dogs in 2018 Williams Lake seizure were euthanized due to behavioural issues, BCSPCA confirm

The dogs did not respond to the behaviour modification and remained terrified of humans

B.C. ‘tent city’ disputes spark call for local government autonomy

UBCM backs Maple Ridge after province overrules city

B.C. drug dealers arrested after traffic stop near Banff turns into helicopter pursuit

Antonio Nolasco-Padia, 23, and Dina Anthony, 55, both well-known to Chilliwack law enforcement

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Most Read