A diverse group of locals is coming together to sponsor a refugee family.
The Interfaith Refugee Project, borne out of the Abbotsford Interfaith Movement, has about 30 people of various beliefs working to provide everything needed to bring a family in need to Canada. So far, they’ve fundraised over $21,000 – still shy of the $34,000 they’ll need.
The group includes representatives from three United churches, a local Baha’i group, Emmanuel Baptist, and some people who are unaffiliated.
“We just want to help people get out of where they are,” said Sue Head, one of the group’s organizers.
The group is getting help with the paperwork from the Mennonite Central Committee, which has an established program for helping refugees and acting as a sponsorship agreement holder. They need to raise enough funds to support the family for a year, and they need to have 70 per cent of that – about $27,000 – before they can submit their sponsorship application.
“Living in B.C., it costs more, so we’ve been very generous in our budget,” said Head.
The amount they’ve already raised came out of existing charity funds from the various faith groups, over the six weeks they’ve been working so far. They’re planning dedicated fundraisers in the new year.
“Accommodation’s going to be a lot of work, and you want to put them in a decent place,” said Head. “There’s lots of paperwork; we’ll help them through it. We have people who will help them learn how to get a bus – just life skills in Canada.”
They hope to submit their application by mid-January. After that the process of being matched with a family will take about two or three weeks.
“Everything is sitting ready. We just need the family,” Head said.