Sponsorship group sees big leap in donations

The Houston Group to Sponsor Syrian Refugees has seen a big leap in its donations.

The Houston Group to Sponsor Syrian Refugees has seen a big leap in its donations.

They currently have around $24,000 from various donations and they just need $6,000 more to reach their fundraising goal. The group also has their eyes on sponsoring a family of three.

“The family is from Sadad [in Syria],” said co-chair Bobby Seinen. “Her husband was killed when ISIL attacked the town. The town is actually about the same size as Houston — 3,500 people. She has two young sons, one five months and one four years.”

“She is a widow, so she is of the most vulnerable, and as far as we know, wants to come to Canada.”

Seinen declined to reveal her name.

The group now has another set of hurdles to face, including getting approval from the federal Citizenship and Immigration Canada for this family to come to Canada.

“Even before that, that family needs the approval of the sponsorship agreement holder,” said Seinen. “World Renew, which is the one that has the sponsorship agreement holder, needs to accept this family and they will probably not accept her if they deem that family as unacceptable by immigration and citizenship.”

Also at the Mar. 8 meeting, Smithers-based Bulkley Valley Refugee Sponsorship Group representative Pauline Mahoney came to share her experience.

Seinen said she learned the different aspects of support necessary for a successful sponsorship. She currently has leads on English as a Second Language (ESL) learning and housing.

“We spoke about ESL in particular with this family because it is such a small family and it is such a young family, we hope to be able to offer ESL in the home, at least initially, until she becomes acquainted with the town,” said Seinen.

Seinen also learned that the two refugee families in Smithers had to go through the shock of moving to a new place.

“They’ve never been out of the country, our society is very different, there’s all sorts of things that need to be learned, so we just want to be able to offer a safe place and help that family reintegrate into a safe town.”

To continue fundraising, Houston Search and Rescue has offered to put on a pancake breakfast fundraiser in April and the Leisure Facility has offered them two-for-one swimming following the pancake breakfast. They will also have a raffle.

“We will be approaching a limited number of groups to perhaps donate a prize,” said Seinen. “And we will be applying for our gaming licence for the raffle.”