Before diving into the latest happenings of our refugee project, I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has participated in this project. To the people who have donated their time, expertise, financial resources, material goods, and/or those who have helped spread the word we are grateful. The outpouring of generosity has communicated in an indisputable way that to the people of the Neighbourhood and to the people of Nanaimo: refugee lives matter! Thank you for helping us provide a desperate family with a new start.
There are a lot of things that have been happening with our refugee project and we want to keep everyone in the loop as much as possible. In this round of updates I will address some of the frequently asked questions. If you have a question that is not answered here please be in touch.
When will the family arrive?
We were notified on November 22nd that our application to sponsor our family had been processed and approved by the Canadian government. We were given the estimate of 4-6 weeks from the date of approval to the date of our family’s arrival in Canada. This past Sunday (December 20th) marked exactly 4 weeks from the day we were approved. What this means is that our family could arrive anytime.
Are you still raising money?
Yes. We are still actively raising support even though we have met our initial fundraising goal. Let me tell you why. The initial goal provides us with enough money to cover the financial support and start up costs associated with bringing over our family of four.
There are however two reasons why we are still raising funds: firstly in order to create a contingency fund and secondly for a potential sponsorship of the husband of the 24 year old woman.
Since this is our first time sponsoring we have tried to learn as much as we can from the experiences of others who have sponsored in the past. Something that has been stressed to us is the importance of a contingency fund to cover unexpected costs. For instance, a church in Saskatchewan that sponsored an Eritrean family told us that there were significant dental costs that were not covered by the health plan made available to newcomers. In their case the sponsored family had never seen a dentist before and so, as you can imagine, there was lots of work to be done.
We have learned that the children’s father may still be in Eritrea and if he finds his way out of the country and into a refugee camp, we would be able to sponsor him as well. In order to reunite the family as quickly as possible, we will need to have the funds raised for him in advance. That way if/when he does show up we can begin the application immediately instead of having to wait while we fundraise. The cost for sponsoring the father is $7,700 (4,900 in income assistance + 2,800 in start up cots).
What happens to the additional funds if the husband/father doesn’t show up?
We are certainly praying for his safety and for the reunification of the family. We do however, want to assure our donors that in the unfortunate event that the husband/father does not show up, the funds will be used to help another refugee in need of sponsorship or will be put towards the sponsorship of an additional family. The husband/father has a one-year window for sponsorship so our plan would be to hold on to the funds designated for his sponsorship for 12 months after our family arrives. If at the end of the 12 months we haven’t received any news about his whereabouts, the committee will determine whether we will take on another sponsorship or will look for a different sponsorship in progress that we can support.
Do we need any material donations (couches, blankets, clothing, etc) ?
We are grateful for the many material donations that we have received to date. We have now fully furnished a living space for our family including bedding, clothing, items for the kitchen, and well, basically everything a family requires for day-to-day life. For this reason we no longer require material donations. The Neighbourhood Church will however have an opportunity for material donations in the late winter early spring when we do our biannual community outreach project. Stay tuned for more details on that.