Preparing for Syrian family’s arrival


Notice of their arrival could be as short as two days

A home is ready and waiting in Olds for a family of nine Syrian refugees being sponsored by the Refugee Welcoming & Resettlement Working Group of the Didsbury and Carstairs areas.

“We are just waiting to hear of their arrival,” said group member Ruth Heidebrecht.

She said the group, started through the Bergthal Mennonite Church, could have as little as two days’ notice that the family is on its way.

Volunteers were putting the finishing touches last week on a rental four-bedroom duplex in Olds where the family will be staying.

Furnishings were moved in and groceries stocked, said Heidebrecht.

The group agreed in January to receive a 39-year-old truck driver, his 40-year-old wife and their seven children aged 11 down to an infant.

The mother and 11-year-old daughter have renal function impairment disorder and will need primary medical care when they arrive.

Plans are underway to arrange for volunteer drivers and those willing to shop with the family or do child care.

Discussions with school officials have already been ongoing, she said.

As well, interpreters knowledgeable of the family’s native language have already been found within Olds.

The family speaks Arabic, said Heidebrecht.

Sponsorship of the family is a one-year commitment, but Heidebrecht said oftentimes friendships and help go well beyond that time frame.

The sponsorship is being done under the Blended Visa Office Referred initiative with the government of Canada contributing $11,000. The balance of the cost of settling and maintaining the family will come from the local group, which has contributions and pledges of more than $35,000.

Ken From and his wife Bev helped with fundraising efforts by corporately matching some donations.

Their company, All-Star Telescope, matched the first $5,000 and then an additional $2,000 in donations, bringing the total given to the refugee sponsorship project to $16,037.95

The sponsoring group helps the refugee family with practical things like housing, finances, and grocery shopping, as well as offering friendship and emotional support.

– With files from Frank Dabbs



About Author

Lea Smaldon

Lea Smaldon joined Mountain View Publishing as managing editor in 2006.