Our Sponsored Refugee Family

By Sandra Seaborn, Associate Priest

Posted on February 4, 2016

UPDATE: Our sponsored family will arrive in Canada on Monday, February 8. Please view our full list of items being collected and place your donations in the bin in the Atrium.

St. Paul's is pleased, once again to be sponsoring a refugee family. The church has entered into this type of relationship twice before. In fact, periodically, the brothers we sponsored from Vietnam more than twenty years ago still drop by to say hello.

This time, the family will be from Syria. The war there has been raging for years and the devastation is beyond description. So many have fled that neighbouring countries are overwhelmed with refugees.

The family we will be welcoming has been living in Lebanon. They have been deemed Convention Refugees by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. This means they are people who are outside of their country of nationality or habitual residence and are unable or unwilling to return to that country because of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, political opinion, nationality or membership in a particular social group.

Our family has been vetted by the Canadian government and been officially categorized BVOR – Blended Visa Office Referred. Because of this, the government provides some of the financial support during the first year and the family is covered under the interim Federal Health Program. Our responsibility is for the rest of the financial support along with emotional and social care.

Once the family arrives in Canada they will become permanent residents. We will be referring to them as our sponsored family rather than a refugee family. Such a distinction is more than semantic, because our role is to help them transition from being victims to becoming active, thriving members of a new country. This transition will take time and our job is to walk alongside them and help them adjust to living in Canada.

Over the past few months the Refugee Working Group has been preparing for the arrival of the family. This core team will do most of the relational work, but all of St. Paul's can help. Firstly you can pray. Please do pray! Pray:

• For the family we are receiving (husband, wife, two sons aged 12 and 10 and a daughter age 6)
• For their smooth transition to this country
• They learn English swiftly and easily
• That a comfortable apartment can be found quickly
• They will know peace and safety here in Canada

Pray too for those in Syria, those in the camps in the region, those trying to reach Europe, the security forces, and those in political leadership looking for macro solutions.

You can also help financially. Currently we are collecting donations to fully fund the year. As the season of Lent approaches, consider giving up that daily coffee and giving the funds to help this new family in Canada.

We are also asking for donations of household items – pretty much everything you might find on a wedding registry plus household, consumable products to help offset the monthly grocery store bills. View our full list of items being collected. Please place your items in the bin in the Atrium.

Big or small, once or often; anyway you can join in supporting them will be a blessing to our sponsored family.