Things have been quiet for Refugees in North Grenville (RING) for the past few months, but that doesn’t mean things haven’t been happening. RING was established in 2015 in response to the refugee crisis in Syria. Through their hard work and dedication, they successfully brought a family of five to Kemptville in September of 2016, with the commitment to help support them for one year. It has been over a year now, and the Al Yousef family are completely self-sufficient. Kutebah, the father of the family, runs his own painting business in town and has a terrific reputation with his clients. They have moved from their small apartment to a larger house, and have some of their kids enrolled in school. “They are settled, contributing members of society,” says RING member Ken Gehrels. “We are delighted.”
Even with their success in bringing their first refugee family to North Grenville, there has been no rest for RING. They have been working tirelessly to help another family in need, filling out paperwork and dealing with the changing rules and regulations regarding bringing refugees to Canada. “They have made it much more complicated,” Ken says.
RING has been working with the group, World Renew, out of Burlington, Ontario, to try to secure another Syrian family to bring to North Grenville. Unfortunately, just when they thought they had a family secured, their application was declined by the Canadian Government. “After many months, due to circumstances beyond our control, the government rejected the application,” Ken says. “It was very sad and disheartening.”
Ken believes that, if this application had been made in the height of the media coverage of the refugee crisis in Syria, the application would have gone through. However, because of the changing political climate, RING had to move on.
After losing the first family, RING decided to broaden their scope beyond just Syrian refugees. “The refugee crisis is not just in Syria,” Ken says. “There are 50 million refugees world-wide, and to remain Syrian-focussed at this point would be too narrow.”
With the help of World Renew, and support of their partners and donors, RING has been able to secure their new family, from the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to BBC News, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s recent history has been full of civil war and corruption. It has been the centre of what some people call “Africa’s world war”, which has claimed up to six million lives, either as a direct result of the fighting, or though disease and malnutrition. “The nation has experienced unbelievable suffering,” Ken says. “Suffering that occurs to this day that doesn’t get reported. RING wants to spread the goodwill of North Grenville beyond today’s media reports.”
RING hopes to welcome the family of five in the next few months. All the fundraising goals have been met, and RING is making the commitment to support the family for one year, as they did with the Al Yousefs. Right now, they are looking for suitable housing and are keeping their ears open for any employment opportunities that may be suitable for them. The family already speaks English, as well as French and Swahili. “We know very little about the family at this stage,” Ken says. “We look forward to welcoming them in the near future.”
If you want more information, or to volunteer with RING, please visit their website at www.refugeesng.com.