An update is long overdue! The Alibrahim family continues to settle in to Canadian life. The kids are doing well in school, picking up lots of English, and parents Saad and Ghaydaa continue to attend English classes in Owen Sound on a regular basis. One of the older kids has landed a summer job (yay!) and there are some other part-time employment opportunities on the horizon. This is an excellent step toward community integration, financial independence, and language improvement.
As you can see from the pictures below, the whole family had a lot of fun at the Easter egg hunt fundraiser for the Liv-A-Little Foundation. It was utterly unlike anything else they’d ever experienced!
We’ve had some turnover with the volunteer drivers taking Saad, Ghaydaa, and the three smallest children to Owen Sound. If you are available to drive, even if you have a car that only fits a few people, please let us know. We need an extra for tomorrow (Tuesday, April 26) and Thursdays, starting immediately. You can find our email address in the Contact tab above.
In the meantime, Saad is in the process of getting his driver’s license and hopefully will soon have a vehicle to drive. Until then, we continue to depend on volunteer drivers generously donating their time. Thank you so much to those who continue to do so; it is much appreciated.
When will the next families be coming?
We are on a waitlist for more refugee families, but have been told by Mennonite Central Committee, our Sponsorship Agreement Holder, that it could be months before we’re matched again. Now that the federal government has reached its 25,000 goal, the processing of refugee paperwork is no longer a priority.
This is infuriating. It leaves us – as well as many other Canadian sponsorship groups, some of which have not even received their initial families yet – feeling betrayed. After listening and responding to the Liberal government’s plea for citizens to step forward, fundraise, and welcome refugees into our communities, the immediate closing-of-the-gates and refusal to continue processing at the same speed as before is confusing and frustrating.
Of course there’s a tug-of-war for resources, and the refugee sponsorship program is typically a prolonged process measured in years, but the fact that our community (along with many others) responded specifically to the government’s request for immediate action makes me think that the government should respond accordingly.
Maclean’s describes the situation as such: “The Trudeau government moved the bureaucratic equivalent of heaven and earth to fulfill an epic campaign promise. Yet it now appears that as soon as it reached its goal, it sent the civil servants home and locked the doors. Everyone else still waiting in the queue? Get back in line, and brace yourselves for a much longer wait.”
One sponsorship group from Halifax has been told their Syrian family will take another 8 months to process in Turkey. Spokeswoman Renee Field told Maclean’s, “It’s a little bit of a slap in the face… The government asked us to rally. We rallied, we raised money, and then they shut us down. It is not acceptable.”
We are fortunate to have received our first family when we did, but it doesn’t make it any easier to wait for the next two that we hope to bring to Saugeen Shores. We have expanded our criteria to include non-Syrians, although we will still be able to reject potential matches if they don’t seem like a good fit for the community.
For those of you who donated specifically for these additional families, the funds will be held indefinitely by Mennonite Central Committee and will be available for our use once the matches are made. Those families will come; it’s just a question of when.