It’s been a long journey for Mengistu and Mimi

Ethiopian family settles in Cranbrook

An Ethiopian family of five was welcomed to Cranbrook by the Cranbrook Hub for Refugees (CHR) in July.

For the Townsman

An Ethiopian family of five was welcomed to Cranbrook by the Cranbrook Hub for Refugees (CHR) in July. The family, consisting of a mother, father and three boys ages nine, five and 10 months, were met at the airport and driven by volunteers to their new home, an apartment which had been completely furnished and stocked with everything they would need upon arrival.

It had been a long journey for the family. The parents, Mengistu and Mimi, were each forced to flee from Ethiopia to Israel. While they lived in Israel, they married and their three sons, Robel, Yohanes and Eyoel, were born. However, circumstances in Israel made it impossible for them to remain there and returning to Ethiopia was not an option due to fear for their safety. When the opportunity to come as refugees to Cranbrook was offered, they gratefully accepted it.

With admirable resilience, they are settling into their new life here. As well as finding their way around for shopping and medical needs, they have begun to take advantage of some of the many recreational opportunities offered here. They enjoy riding their bikes around and are using the pool and the library. The two older boys are enrolled in school and the parents are exploring opportunities for employment and for furthering their education at the College of the Rockies.

None of this would have been possible without the support and generosity of the residents of this community. Almost all of the furnishings and other necessities were donated. Cash donations and support for CHR fundraising activities have enabled us to raise enough money to supplement the government funding for six months and to financially support the family for an additional six months.

For the CHR volunteers, it has meant months of planning and preparation, but the reward of seeing a family have the opportunity to build a better future has made it all worthwhile. What we have learned and gained from the experience is at least equal to the benefits to the family. As we assist this family in the process of settling in, we have also begun planning to give the same opportunity to other refugee families.

Among other things, that involves a series of fundraising activities. The next planned event is a Golf Ball Drop at Mission Hills Golf Course on September 30th. Up to one thousand numbered golf balls will be dropped by helicopter onto the golf course and the one closest to a specific point will entitle its owner to a prize of $1000. Tickets with numbers corresponding to the numbers on the balls cost $10 and can be purchased from any member of the CHR or by contacting Mark Spence-Vinge at spencevinge@shaw.ca or 250-426-4274.

The CHR wishes to thank all of you who have supported this project, and we ask that you join us in welcoming this family and in helping to make possible the arrival of future families.

Submitted by the Cranbrook Hub for Refugees