UR Life

Meaford group to sponsor Syrian refugee family

Michael Anderson

By Michael Anderson


Meaford Refugee Welcome Group

A grassroots volunteer group is working to bring a Syrian refugee family to Meaford.

Cathy Miller, the minister at Christ Anglican Church in Meaford says, “There is an overwhelming humanitarian crisis in the Middle East. Almost 4 million people are currently living in refugee camps in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. Our aim is to bring a family of up to 6 people to Meaford, support them for a year, and help them get on their feet for their new life in Canada.”

The incoming Liberal government has promised to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of 2015. “We’re just one group out of many across the country who are welcoming families to our communities,” says Miller. “But if we all do our part, we can make a huge difference to the lives of many, many people who desperately need our help. They’re living in terrible conditions in the camps, usually with only the clothes on their backs. There are several other groups in Grey-Bruce who are sponsoring families, and we’re working with them to ensure that we can help each other out as much as possible.”

All refugees coming to Canada will have been screened by the United Nations, and will have been confirmed as genuine refugees who present no security threat.

Under the terms of the Blended Visa Office - Referred (BVOR) program, the federal government will pay half the first year’s costs to support a refugee family. The other half is covered by the private groups sponsoring the family. The Meaford Refugee Welcome Group has launched a fundraising campaign to raise $25,000 to cover its share of these costs. The service clubs in Meaford have already expressed their support. “The initial response from people in the community has been inspiring,” Miller said. “Any and all financial contributions are crucial to help us meet our goal. And, of course, all contributions are tax-deductable!”

The Group is also looking for volunteers to help, before or after the family arrives in Meaford. Volunteers are needed to raise funds, drive family members to various appointments, to help them shop, to help them learn English – anything, in fact, that helps them adjust to their new life in Canada. A pressing need is for housing, preferably in the town of Meaford so the family can walk to shops and schools.

“We know that Meaford is a welcoming community,” said Miller. “Lots of people living here have come from somewhere else. We’re confident that Meaford will extend the same welcome to a family escaping the chaos in Syria to start a fresh life in Canada. And I know that anyone who comes here will enrich our community by the cultural diversity that they will bring.”

For more information, please contact Cathy Miller at (519 538 1330).

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