Waiting is hard! It’s been over a month since our group was tentatively matched with a family profile, and still we are waiting, waiting, waiting…
All we know is that the family is currently undergoing security screenings and interviews with Canadian visa officers in the refugee camp near Beirut where they’re staying. Every day I check my email with great hope that Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has received word and knows when they’re coming. And every day, there’s no information yet.
In the meantime we are getting ready for their arrival. The biggest news is that an incredibly generous couple, Mariam and Samir, have purchased a house for the family to live in. This takes a tremendous weight off my shoulders, as I was searching for a house suitable for 13 people without evening knowing their arrival date – not an appealing prospect for many landlords. Now we’ll have landlords who are deeply dedicated to the cause.
The 4-bedroom house is located in Port Elgin with a large fenced backyard. It’s within easy walking distance of the high school, with a school bus direct to Saugeen Central school, close to the rail trail and playground, and situated in a quiet neighbourhood. The family will be very comfortable there.
Thank you to the countless people who have offered donations, both in the form of money and items. In fact, we’ve received offers of far more items than we can possibly accept. Elizabeth and I are in the process of putting together a list of what we need and who’s offered it. We are striving to plan the ideal furniture layout to accommodate so many people, and, in the interest of conserving space, must be careful about what we accept. If you’ve offered something we need, you will hear from us soon.
Thank you, too, for the surplus of clothing. We don’t need any more for now, but will let the public know when we do via this website and our Facebook page.
In light of the many comments and requests I receive from people wanting to get involved, there really isn’t a whole lot to do right now. I know, it’s hard – I find it extremely frustrating at times – but it goes along with the refugee sponsorship process.
Once the family arrives, however, there will be more to do. I hope the community of Saugeen Shores will open its arms to this family, invite their children over to play, take the parents out to meet people, bring them food, offer day trips, gift certificates, homework help, rides, extracurricular activities, cups of tea shared around kitchen tables. That is the kind of support that will ensure this family’s full integration into our community and the sense of belonging that they’ve been seeking for possibly many years.
The process has just begun. We hope to bring a second family later in 2016, at which point we’ll do this all over again. We also fully intend to continue fundraising and sponsoring refugees for as long as the organization has money, so keep making financial donations and encouraging your friends and family to do so as well.
Clearly this is something that resonates deeply with the residents of Saugeen Shores, who have proven to be generous and compassionate thus far. This town makes me fiercely proud! Together we’ve done something that started as only a small dream.