Min­is­te­rial As­so­ci­a­tion com­mit­tee pre­par­ing to wel­come refugee fam­ily to Swift Cur­rent

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Swift Current - BY MATTHEW LIEBEN­BERG — mlieben­[email protected]­t.com

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).

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