This post is a departure from my regular ramblings about special events. This one is about the refugee crisis in the Middle East, an urgent, worldwide problem.
After headlines broke a couple of months ago finally recognizing the problem, people everywhere started clamouring to help with sponsoring refugees. Unfortunately, few knew where to go or what to do. The fact is, the majority of refugees, at least those coming to Canada, must be sponsored by community organizations or groups of five or more permanent residents. Applications to sponsor are also accepted from so-called Sponsorship Agreement Holders, usually churches or charitable groups. At present, there is no central web site or location where people can go to donate to any of these individual sponsoring groups.
The process to support a refugee or refugee family is not a simple one. It requires the sponsoring organization to provide funding and real assistance for the family for a period of one year. This includes: finding rental accommodation; finding work; providing food, clothing, and furniture; assisting with a major cultural transition; helping to learn English; and registering for schools. It requires commitment. The typical cost is in the order of $25,000 or more per year that each sponsor must raise to do this. For this reason, the organizations that do sponsor must be very committed to seeing the project through to its completion.
It is with this in mind that I am writing to appeal to my blog readers to help with the real sponsorship of two refugee families that my parish is undertaking. One such family is from Iraq and includes a husband and wife, and three small children, ages 8, 6, and 2. We are expecting them to arrive in Canada before the end of 2015. We have also made application for a similar Syrian family and expect them to arrive around the middle of 2016.
Our fundraising goal is $50,000 for both families and to date we have raised just over $30,000. If you would like to help us reach our goal, you can read more about the project at http://www.stclare.ca/refugee-family.aspx. There you will find a link to donate directly online. For donors from Canada, we are a registered charitable organization, so you will receive a tax receipt at the end of the year.
Our new Prime Minster, Justin Trudeau, has promised to immediately increase Canada's quota of refugees to 25,000 from 10,000. This greater number will still need to be settled here in a similar fashion and the task will be no less onerous for sponsoring organizations. Indeed, even more organizations will have to step forward. Now is the time to really become involved.