“We have a family.”
The Kimberley Refugee Resettlement Group, which has been fundraising and planning for almost a year, is thrilled to announce that they have been informed that the refugee family they will sponsor will arrive in Kimberley this week, likely on Thursday.
“It’s so exciting,” said KRRG member Louise Hockley. “We are beside ourselves. We worked so hard to get to this point.”
The announcement was made Tuesday night at a KRRG social where the last household items were being collected.
The family is from Pakistan — Mom, Dad and three children, aged 5, 6 and 8. They have been living in a refugee camp in Thailand for the past several years and are enroute from Bangkok, with a stopover in Vancouver.
KRRG representatives Dave Hale, Louise Hockley, Colin MacKenzie, Debra Wills and Tasha Haiduk will meet the family at the airport and drive them to their new home. KRRG is sensitive to the family’s privacy and their name and other details will be given when they are comfortable with meeting the community.
“When the family is ready, we will introduce them,” said Cyndy Moore, another KRRG member.
There is more than enough money in the bank to support the family for some time if needed. The federal government requires at least $15,000 saved before a group can sponsor a family.
“We have that and then some,” Hockley said. “We are feeling very secure. If needs be we can support them for a lengthy time.”
All those funds were raised through spaghetti dinners and dessert nights and other events. The group even made $1000 selling homemade gnocchi.
“The garage sale was a big gift from the Food Bank. It was so successful, we are donating $1000 to the Food Bank,” Moor said.
The group is sensitive to criticism that Canada should take car of its own first, but Hockley says they do and are.
“People in our group are not only working with those from overseas but at home as well,” Hockley said.
“We work hand in hand with the food bank, we try to help everybody. When anyone asks, I say I do care for all. I am a director of the Food Bank, we help people around the world through my Church, through KRRG I help bring people to safety.
“When someone questions helping refugees, I am tempted to ask, what do you do? We believe in helping everyone. We have helped some locals in need.”
“So much is placed on the refugee, fear of terrorism, fear of losing jobs, but people like this family really are the bravest of the brave,” said Moore. “And who’s to say that new refugees won’t start a business and provide employment. Fear does seem to be the essence of the doubts. Bus as Socrates said, ‘I am not an Athenian or a Greek. I am a citizen of the world’. We believe in thinking globally and acting locally. That comes from the UN.”
“And it expands like a pebble in the water,” Hockley said. “I am my brother’s keeper.”
The odds of a family being sponsored are staggering, said Moore.
“Since we arrived here this evening one hour ago, 1,440 people in 125 countries have been newly displaced. Of these 1,440, 1,150 or 80 per cent are women and children. Only eight of these people have a chance of being resettled based on the UN Refugee Agency statistics.”
With the fundraising over, at least for this family, other KRRG team members will now assist with their integration into life in Kimberley. Not a lot is known about what part of Pakistan they are from originally. It is known that they speak Urdu.
“Dave Hale went to the College to see if there are any students who speak Urdu and there are. A brother and sister are delighted to act as interpreters.”
That kind of assistance, making friends and building partners in the community has been one of the most rewarding parts of the process.
“Kimberley always comes forward when the need is there,” Hockley said.
“We are feeling very satisfied,” Moore said. “And we don’t plan to stop. We will take a breath, reflect on how everything worked, and then hopefully sponsor other families in the future.
“It’s amazing how it brings us all together.”