Merrickville Bridge to Canada (MBC) has finally secured a Syrian refugee family who could be arriving in the Village within a matter of weeks. The family of six is originally from Daraa, a city of about 100,000 people in southwestern Syria, located 90kms south of Damascus and right in the thick of the fighting, so the family has been living in Jordan for some time. Most likely in a refugee camp.
MBC has been preparing for the arrival of this family for over a year. Part of this preparation has been raising money so they will be able to pay for the family’s living expenses for a year. So far, they have over $28,000 in the bank, but are shooting for $40,000 to provide a cushion for unknowns. The government has said that all refugees who arrive after December 2016 must pay their own airfare, so that is also an additional cost that needs to be covered. The Canadian government will still pay $12,500 for their living expenses, and they will be eligible for the child benefit, which will help supplement their income.
Besides more funds, MBC is also looking for volunteers to help when the family arrives, particularly when it comes to transportation and translation services. The leader of MBC, Audrey Bridge, will be housing the family in the short term when they arrive; however, they are looking for a 3-bedroom house or apartment to rent for the family.
MBC representative, Graeme Bonham-Carter, says they are very excited to make first contact with the family this week. This will entail hiring a translator so they can ensure the conversation goes as smoothly as possible. “I am an immigrant from England,” Graeme says. “My adjustment to life in Canada was natural. I can’t imagine what it will be like for a family with a different language and culture.”
If you would like to add your name to the list of drivers for the family, contact Terri Hamway at 613-816-2520. If you are able help with translation or teaching English, you can call Leanne Mundy at 613-269-3935; and if you have any leads on housing, get in touch with Fred McFarland at 613-269-4415. Financial donations would be greatly appreciated and can be made at www.merrickvillebridge.ca. Charitable receipts for donations are available.
“We look forward to welcoming the family as our new friends and neighbours,” writes the MBC Executive. “There will be a period of adjustment to a new environment, but we hope that they will soon contribute to our Merrickville mosaic, weaving new rich threads from their culture, language and cuisine into the fabric of our village.”