Ministerial Association committee preparing to welcome refugee family to Swift Current
The Swift Current and Area Ministerial Association (SCAMA) Refugee Committee is preparing to welcome another family.
This will be the second time that the SCAMA Refugee Committee will assist a refugee family to settle in Swift Current through the federal government's Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Program, which matches refugees identified for resettlement by the United Nations Refugee Agency with private sponsors in Canada. The previous family arrived in Swift Current in July 2016 and the refugee committee has successfully completed the financial support under the terms of the BVOR Program for that family of 13.
Sammy Khalife, who volunteered as a translator and health coordinator on the committee to support that family, said the group is anticipating another family.
“Everyone is very excited,” he said. “Those who are not able to help with this family are at least able to train whoever is coming on to help with the new family. ... It's a chance to help another family that they can see Swift Current and be safe. All the churches are already helping in sending volunteers and money when they can. It's all happening again like it happened the first time.”
The SCAMA Refugee Committee became aware of this family after receiving a call from the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Saskatoon.
“One of the families that's been waiting for a long time is this family and they asked us to take a family on, and that's how it all started,” he said.
The family of eight people have been living in a refugee camp in Turkey for several years, but they are originally from Syria. The ages of the six children vary between six and 18. The family will arrive any time from mid-October to late December. The refugee committee's previous experience in supporting a large family has prepared them to do it again and they are now familiar with the process of sponsoring a family.
“It went so well the first time,” he said. “So we're more confident and it will help us to do it right again. We learned a lot through the process of the first family and if anything this will be easier on us.”
The committee is setting up a family structure team that will support the new family. This team is almost in place.
“Anyone from the old team will be training those from the new team that will be working with this specific family,” he said. “Every family is going to have their own structure team to support them. So this way we don't burn through our volunteers and every family will get the proper attention that they need.”
According to Khalife, the most important lesson learned by the committee from sponsoring the first family was to be prepared for surprises.
“As much as you plan, you should always be prepared for surprises,” he said. “For example, you plan that they will have coverage for health and then to find out there's a lot of things that's not covered for them, and it becomes out of pocket expenses. You don't plan for death and birth. We came across a funeral with our family, they lost their grandmom, and that's something you never prepared for. You never think about and you don't think you're going to experience it within a few months of meeting the family. You also don't prepare for one of the family members becoming pregnant and having a baby. It's those things that could happen.”
In preparation for the arrival of the new family, the committee needs to arrange housing. Many household items have already been collected and the committee will send out a request for specific items that are still required.
There are ways people can support the work of the committee. They can make a financial donation or become a volunteer to provide support to the family after their arrival in Swift Current. There is a need for volunteers as drivers, to assist the family with shopping, and to be tutors.
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer can contact Brenda Epp by email at [email protected]tel.net or call 306-778-0880. Information about the work of the committee and any needs that the committee will have to support the new family is available on the Swift Current and Area Ministerial Association Refugee Committee Facebook page (@SCRefugee).