By Trisha Dempsey
We are so excited to announce that we have been matched with a Syrian refugee family! We had been concerned that it might have taken much longer to be matched, because there had been a significant delay with the government's update of the BVOR list of families seeking sponsorship. Thankfully, ISANS was able to reserve a profile for us when the updated list was posted mid-week. We were provided with a sparse profile of the family and we had to make our decision before the end of the day...
Of course we said yes! We don't know too much about them at this point, but we do know our sponsored family consists of a father (age 33), mother (age 27), and their two young boys (age 5 and 3). They are Syrians who have been living as refugees in Jordan. We look forward to welcoming this family to Nova Scotia.
Our final refugee sponsorship application forms were submitted to ISANS on Friday. After ISANS (our sponsorship agreement holder) fills in the rest of the necessary information, they will send the application forms to the Central Processing Office in Winnipeg (CPO-W). Providing the application is approved, it will then be forwarded to the Canadian visa-office in Jordan to be processed. Sometime after this step is complete, we will receive further information about the family, as well as the date and time that the family's flight will land in Halifax.
We have heard that sponsorship application forms are being processed very quickly and we are aware that other sponsorship groups have often had less than a week's warning before their family's arrival. Therefore, it is possible the family could be here in 2-3 weeks at the very earliest, but it will more likely be in the range of 1-2 months, since it sounds like they may still need to go through some pre-departure processes.
We launched this sponsorship effort on October 6th, and exactly three months later we were matched with a family. Thankfully we have kept busy in those three months preparing for the family's arrival.
The trick to effectively collecting in-kind donations and household items is to devise a system where you get the range of items you need, without unnecessary duplicates and 'too much stuff'. One of our brilliant volunteers came up with 'Project Housewarming' (inspired by the Salvation Army's Angel Tree project), where different groups and individuals were assigned a selection of 'tags' with names of household items, that they would then be responsible for delivering. Below, is a photo of a few tags on my fridge!
*Note: these tags have been assigned already.
At this time, nearly all the tags have been assigned and we are asking for people to deliver the items to us by January 12th (Tuesday). If you would like to take responsibility for any remaining Project Housewarming tags, please let us know.
Next week we will begin transferring items from the PODS storage unit (generously loaned to us), to the apartment. It is wonderful that we now know the family's ages, as this will help us better plan for the family. Also in this coming week we will begin recruiting more members to assist us with the family's initial settlement needs, and we will review and confirm our game plan for the first couple of weeks after the family's arrival when there are so many tasks to take care of (MSI, sin cards, opening up a bank account, school registration, community orientation, etc.).
We are also hoping to recruit several Arabic-speaking individuals who are willing to volunteer their time to assist with interpretation when Google Translate proves insufficient.
Finally, I would like to invite you all to come to the upcoming fundraising event below...
A Sausage and Pancake Breakfast, in support of Refugees Belong
Date: Jan. 16th (Sat), 8:30am - 10:00am
Location: First Sackville Presbyterian Church (60 Beaverbank Road, Lower Sackville)
Don't worry about cooking breakfast Saturday morning! Come out the the First Sackville Presbyterian Church for a delicious sausage and pancake breakfast, all the while supporting the Refugees Belong sponsorship effort with your donations.
Tickets: Breakfast is free; voluntary donations are appreciated! Donations of $10.00 or more will be issued mailed out receipts if name and address are provided. Cheques should be made payable to First Sackville Presbyterian and marked ‘Refugee Fund’.
Breakfast limited to 100 people—call 902-865-1390 if you wish to reserve one of those spaces.
A huge thank you to the First Sackville Presbyterian Church for hosting this upcoming fundraising event for Refugees Belong.
*Follow us through our Facebook page to stay updated on refugee-related news and updates.