|Members of welcoming committee help immigrant family get settled in their new home.|
A case in point is Saugeen Shores where the second newcomer family arrived this past weekend.
The two parents and four children had a long, exhausting journey from Tanzania to South Africa, and then all the way to Toronto, but they showed up at Pearson International Airport wearing big smiles and their Sunday best. Upon arriving in Port Elgin, a welcoming committe drove the family past their rental house (which they’ll move into on November 1st) and they clapped excitedly. They were also thrilled to see the school that the youngsters will attend.
For now, they will stay in temporary accommodations and begin the long process of integrating into the Lake Huron community and learning English. They speak only a few basic words, no French, only Swahili.
Many local residents have kindly expressed a desire to donate household goods and clothing to the family. Just as an example, here is a list of specific items needed at this time.
– Bathroom supply kit (toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet paper, soap, shampoo, deodorant, sanitary pads, dental floss, washcloth, etc.)
– First aid kit
– Minor medications kit (Tylenol, Gravol, etc.)
– Grocery carrier or wagon (for making trips on foot to Walmart) – Toys for kids (baseball gloves, soccer ball, Frisbee, colouring books and craft supplies)
– Clothing & footwear (running shoes and winter boots) for specific ages: 12-year-old girl, 9-yr-old boy, 7-yr-old girl, 4-yr-old boy, 2 parents (both are slight and small). At this point, they need everything
-- Pants, skirts, shirts, undershirts, etc.
The parents will be subsequently enrolled in English classes at the ESL school in Owen Sound. Classes run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through the week, Monday to Friday, and volunteer drivers will be recruited. All volunteers of course, are required to complete a vulnerable sector background check, as is required of anyone working with refugees under Canadian law.
The family of six comes from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and has been residing in Tanzania. It has been two years since The Saugeen Shores Refugee Fund began a campaign to sponsor a family from Syria. That first family arrived in January 2016. This will be the group’s second and final sponsorship, made possible by donations from the community, Bruce Power, and local service groups.
“We decided to expand our criteria for sponsorship to other parts of the world, not just the Middle East. There are so many refugee crises happening all over, and the conflict in East Africa has been ongoing for many years,” says Katherine Martinko, SSRF coordinator.
SSRF works together with Mennonite Central Committee to make the sponsorship happen. Financial support is provided to the family for one year, with half the funds coming from fund-raised money and the other half provided by the federal government.
As they say: "It takes a community...!" Perhaps more accurately in this case -- a country.
|Happy faces of welcoming committee.|