At the congregational meeting on January 10th, the congregation overwhelmingly endorsed the work of the refugee sponsorship team. Yay! If you missed the meeting, or if you didn’t get a copy of the handout, here are the materials for your viewing and reading pleasure.
The refugee sponsorship team used this video at the beginning of the meeting to provide a quick overview of the Syrian refugee crisis. It was created in September 2015 and focuses on the European Union, but is still a great, approachable summary of the situation.
The team also prepared a short FAQ to cover some of the basics, and to give you an idea of some of the ways you can get involved. You can read that FAQ below, and if you’d like to keep a copy, you can download a pdf version right here.
Knox Oakville Refugee Sponsorship FAQ
What does it mean to sponsor a refugee family?
In a private refugee sponsorship, qualified individuals or groups commit to support their sponsored refugees for one year. The sponsors provide basic essentials like housing, furnishings, clothing and transportation, as well as support and guidance as the refugees learn about life in Canada, how to navigate various government and community services, how to budget and shop, learn English and eventually seek employment.
The Presbyterian Church in Canada is a Sponsorship Agreement Holder with the Government of Canada, which means Presbyterian churches can sponsor refugees through the denomination.
The sponsorship Knox is taking on will be through the government’s Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR) program. In these BVOR cases, the refugees have already been pre-screened and approved for entry to Canada. The government provides funds for six months of the refugees’ expenses and the sponsoring group provides the start-up costs and funds for the other six months.
Because the refugees in the BVOR cases have already been interviewed and approved by visa officers, they tend to arrive more quickly than refugees sponsored through other programs.
Most sponsoring groups support families of two to four people. It can be tougher to find sponsors for larger families. The Knox sponsorship team thinks we can raise enough for a larger family, so we’re committing to sponsor a family of six.
How much will the sponsorship cost?
Because Halton Region is an expensive place to live we’re estimating we’ll need to raise $30,000.
How can I help?
There are lots of ways to help out, and there will be even more in the future. Here are just a few:
Join the Refugee Sponsorship Team
- Many hands make light work. To join the team, speak to Matt Foxall or send him an email.
- We may not know our sponsored family yet, but God knows them. Pray for them and for the people who are working to help give them a new start in Canada.
- Please make cheques payable to Knox Oakville with “Refugee Sponsorship” clearly written on the memo line. (This ensures the volunteers on the finance team know where to direct the funds.)
- You can also donate online using a credit card, debit or PayPal.
Share the Story
- Tell your family, friends and coworkers about the refugee sponsorship. Lots of people want to help refugees but aren’t sure how to do so. Let them know they can donate online at the following link: https://www.canadahelps.org/dn/25178
Sign up to help out with one or more of the following things:
- The newcomers will not have a car or Canadian driver’s licenses. So put on your chauffer hat and help provide the family members with a lift to appointments, shopping, etc. We’re creating a list of drivers who are willing to provide transportation.
- Sign up to help us move furniture or do other physical tasks when necessary.
- If you have expertise that could be useful to the family or the sponsorship team, let us know. Maybe you’re great at creating household budgets and could help teach the family about how to stretch their dollars in Canada. Or perhaps you know a lot about taxes and could help them learn about that. Maybe you speak Arabic and would like to be added to our translation team. Maybe your a great cook and can teach them about common Canadian foods and how to prepare them. There will be lots of little tasks to do and things the family will need to learn about as they settle into their lives in Canada. Let us know if there are skills you think could be helpful.
Are there things the sponsorship team needs right now?
Yes! We’re looking for help with:
- We will have a house for the family as of April 1st. But we don’t know yet when the family will be arriving, and there’s a good chance it will be before then. So we’re asking if anyone has space to spare. Maybe you have a large house that you could share with the family for a little while. Or maybe you’ll be wintering somewhere warmer and would allow the family to live in your home while you’re gone.
- People have already been calling us with items they’d like to donate, including furniture. We have nowhere to store these things between now and when the family arrives. Do you have a garage or other storage space available? Or do you know someone who does?
Where can I learn more about refugee sponsorship?
These organizations have lots of great information on their websites:
- Presbyterian World Service & Development
- The Refugee Sponsorship Training Program
- Lifeline Syria
- The Canadian Council for Refugees
Photo by European Commission DG ECHO via Flickr, CC 2.0