Representatives of the Kimberley Refugee Resettlement Group — Graham Smith and Colin Mackenzie — visited the Kimberley Rotary Club on Wednesday to provide an update on their efforts to bring two refugee families to Kimberley.
The KRRG was formed in November of 2015 to represent Kimberley in support of the growing crisis in Syria. It is estimated about four million Syrians are outside their own country, mainly in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, and eight million are displaced within Syria. Half of these refugees are children.
Smith says that it isn’t likely that any family would arrive before the second quarter of this year. These things take time, and there is much to be done beforehand.
That work includes finding housing, and furnishing those homes. The families will be arriving with little more than a suitcase and will therefore need everything set up for them.
This means fundraising. Smith says that bringing in two families means about $54,000 must be in place. About $20,000 of that will come from the government of Canada. The rest must be raised, either through donation or in-kind.
The KRRG has been divided into teams; resettlement planning, fundraising, finance and communications.
They have partnered with the Anglican Diocese for the Kootenays, who will hold the sponsorship agreement. The Anglican Diocese, Mackenzie says, have a well-established reputation as a refugee sponsor.
There are many ways all of us can help the KRRG. One of the most important is just to champion the refugee cause in the community, Smith says. Be respectful, understanding and tolerant while becoming a global citizen.
You can volunteer your time. Either helping with fundraising now, or volunteer time to help the new families feel comfortable in their new homes when they arrive. They will need to find doctors and dentists, get health cards and other paperwork. They will need rides to grocery stores and English classes.
Or you can volunteer cash. Cash donations are needed now and can be made at Kootenay Savings Credit Union or online at kimberleyrefugee.wix.com/resettlementgroup.