Hope Church rises to chal­lenge

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Len­noxville

As the num­ber of dis­placed per­sons, peo­ple who have been forced through war, ag­gres­sion or per­se­cu­tion to leave their homes, around the world con­tin­ues to grow to epic pro­por­tions, some Cana­dian in­di­vid­u­als and or­ga­ni­za­tions have found a way to

help: pri­vate refugee spon­sor­ships.

Len­noxville’s Hope Com­mu­nity Church is one such or­ga­ni­za­tion. Its mem­bers are spon­sor­ing a young Iraqi fam­ily of four who they hope will fi­nally be able to come to Canada by next win­ter. “We re­ceived a chal­lenge to spon­sor a fam­ily of refugees so, as a church, we de­cided to take up the chal­lenge. Af­ter do­ing a lot of pa­per­work, we have re­ceived ap­proval from the govern­ment now to do so,” com­mented Paul McLean, an el­der with the Hope Com­mu­nity Church.

But last De­cem­ber, Mr. McLean and his fam­ily, along with a few other mem­bers of the church, de­cided to take the ex­pe­ri­ence a step fur­ther. “My fam­ily and I usu­ally go some­where to share Christ­mas with oth­ers so a friend sug­gested we go to meet the Bar­bars, the fam­ily the church is spon­sor­ing,” he con­tin­ued. "Ten mem­bers of Hope Church and three friends flew to Am­man, Jor­dan in De­cem­ber. Our in­ten­tion was to go and cel­e­brate Christ­mas with the Bar­bars and other refugee fam­i­lies liv­ing there.”

The Bar­bars are a Chris­tian Iraqi fam­ily of four, driven out of their home­town of Qaraqosh by ISIS in Au­gust of 2014. “The fam­ily first fled into Kur­dis­tan and then to Jor­dan where they de­clared them­selves refugees. They live in an area of Am­man with other Iraqi refugees; usu­ally three or four fam­i­lies will crowd into one small apart­ment,” Mr. McLean ex­plained. “They aren’t al­lowed to work in Jor­dan and they can’t go back to Iraq be­cause they have a tar­get on their back. Some Iraqis went back to Qaraqosh with the un­der­stand­ing they would be pro­tected by the Iraqi army. Then one day the army left, all of a sud­den, and ISIS moved right back in.”

Raed and Juli­ette Bar­bar have two young girls, aged four and six. “The Bar­bars are lovely folks. Raed was a busi­ness­man in Iraq who owned a chicken farm, a car deal­er­ship and a pool hall. In one day he went from that to be­ing a refugee with just the clothes on his back and the money in his pock­ets,” said Mr. McLean. “We met many other fam­i­lies with­out spon­sors while we were in Am­man. There were doc­tors, pro­fes­sors, truck driv­ers, all kinds of peo­ple.” Hop­ing that other in­di­vid­u­als or groups might be in­ter­ested in spon­sor­ing one of th­ese fam­i­lies, Mr. McLean has brought back the re­quired spon­sor­ship pa­per­work and doc­u­ments for thir­teen Iraqi fam­i­lies. “We met th­ese fam­i­lies and even took some videos of them. I en­cour­age any­one who has an in­ter­est to think about spon­sor­ing a fam­ily.”

“To spon­sor a fam­ily of four, you have to have the ca­pac­ity to sup­port them for a year,” said Mr. McLean. In Que­bec, the mon­e­tary value of that has been placed at around $21,000. “We’ve opened an ac­count and peo­ple are wel­come to con­trib­ute to it. We’re also tak­ing do­na­tions of fur­ni­ture and cloth­ing for the fam­ily. But once they ar­rive, the most im­por­tant thing we’ll have to do is to help them find jobs.”

Once the Bar­bar fam­ily ar­rives in Canada, their spon­sors will also be re­spon­si­ble for ac­com­pa­ny­ing the fam­ily through the process of learn­ing how ev­ery­thing, like buss­ing, ac­cess­ing health ser­vices, bank­ing, and gro­cery shop­ping works in Que­bec. They will also need help fill­ing out all the govern­ment pa­per­work needed to ap­ply for per­ma­nent res­i­dency. “We’ll di­vide up all those tasks among mem­bers of the church. We re­ally hope that the fam­ily will in­te­grate into our com­mu­nity.”

“I be­lieve that spon­sor­ing this fam­ily, ev­ery­one ral­ly­ing around this fam­ily will be a great team­build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for the mem­bers of our church. We should love our neigh­bours; they are from across the ocean but they are still our neigh­bours,” con­cluded Mr. McLean.

Any­one who would like more in­for­ma­tion about spon­sor­ing a refugee fam­ily is wel­come to call Paul McLean at 819 820-5932.

Mem­bers of Hope Com­mu­nity Church (at left)

with an Iraqi fam­ily in need of spon­sor­ship.

Pho­tos cour­tesy

A ‘Town­ships Santa’ gives out gifts to Iraqi child refugees in Jor­dan.

McLean fam­ily mem­bers pre­par­ing gift bags for the refugees.

Paul McLean (far right) poses with his wife and chil

dren and some of their new Iraqi friends.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.