Safehaven March 2017 Update

Safehaven:Refugee Sponsorship Groupwas formed a year ago and in that time we have raised approximately $68,000.00 towards the goal of bringing our designated Syrian family of 7 to the Comox Valley.

As of today, our paperwork was approved and forwarded from the Canadian Governments central office in Winnipeg, to the appropriate embassy in Turkey where our family is sheltering. We could be waiting for up to 10 months more before the family arrives as the process has slowed down somewhat with the government. On the other hand, they could arrive in a few weeks but, we just don’t know. It is unlikely that this will happen, but it is possible.

There is much to do in the meantime in preparation for receiving this family and instituting our “settlement plan”. This includes categories like housing, interpreters, ESL, clothing, furnishings, utilities, food, schooling, paperwork(SIN numbers, interim federal health, child benefits etc), banking and our monetary system, health appointments, transportation, computers and cell phones to name a few. It looks like a daunting task, but taken individually, it is actually much less onerous.

We will be hosting a large Choral Concert with 7 mass choirs early in May with admission by donation. A special guest will be a world class Syrian violinist from Victoria, Mr. Sari Alesh. Mr. Alesh has been covered by numerous newspapers across the country and Macleans magazine as Mr. Alesh was brought into Victoria as refugee himself in 2016. This will be a wonderful tie-in to our Syrian family so look for the press releases in our local papers and on the radio.

After the concert, probably in June, we will be hosting a public meeting inviting the general public to help with this family’s settlement and adaptation to Canada. Volunteers will be able to sign up to assist in the various categories taking direction from one of our Team members who have signed the legal documents and have the authority. All Team members have completed criminal record checks and signed code of conduct and confidentiality agreements with the Inter Cultural Association of greater Victoria who we are accessing our family through.

The settlement process of the first year is a large undertaking but we feel confident that the outpouring of compassion that we have already experienced will continue.

We thank you all and express our extreme gratitude to all those who have donated funds, or their time or simply encouraged us. We live in a wonderful, compassionate community.

Gary Stevenson
Safehaven:Refugee Sponsorship Group