We now welcome our third sponsored family of newcomers to Collingwood
Welcome to the Collingwood Syrian Family Sponsorship Fund
The Collingwood Syrian Family Sponsorship Committee is very pleased to announce that a third family sponsored by our organization arrived in town on December 6, 2018. This time the newcomers are a mother and four adult daughters from the Kurdish part of Iraq, close to Syria. Like the other families we have supported, they were refugees who managed to escape the horrors of war. This family fled to Turkey before applying to come to Canada. We are grateful for their safe arrival and are in the process of helping them settle into their new home and get to know their new community.
We are very thankful for the many people who donated the necessary funds to sponsor this third family. A particularly generous donation from a young local couple spearheaded the fundraising campaign. This was quickly followed by additional donations which helped us reach our goal. The funds raised will go toward paying rent, groceries, clothing, transportation and other family needs. Thank you to everyone who contributed – you have helped make a profound difference in the lives of those in need of a safe place to live.
While affordable rental housing is difficult to find in town, we were most fortunate that a homeowner agreed to rent a furnished house at a reasonable rent for a one year period. Following the year of financial support by the committee and the federal government’s six month Refugee Assistance Program, the family will be assisted in finding their own furniture and household items when they move to another house. At that time, we may be requesting donations of furniture and household items to assist them as they set up their own home.
In the past, we had thought that perhaps the newcomer families would decide to move to another place with a larger cultural community for them to connect with. However, so far the two families we sponsored have chosen to stay here, as has the family sponsored by First Presbyterian Church. As well, two other families have moved here on their own, hearing Collingwood is a welcoming town. In just over two years, the newcomers have begun to find their place in this community, are employed and have given back in so many ways. These families support each other and are open to welcoming other newcomers who come to town. Despite often very different backgrounds, they understand the trauma of being uprooted by war, forced to escape one’s homeland and search for a safe place to live. We are thankful that some of the newcomers are able to act as translators for the newest family and went to the airport as part of the welcoming team when they arrived.
We have a network of dedicated volunteers who have helped all the families settle. In doing so, we have found the commitment to help others has nurtured our own sense of wellbeing and expanded our world views. There are many tasks to be done, from driving to appointments, to helping with English, to providing computer support, to just being a friend. If you wish to volunteer please contact Tara Bailey at Elephant Thoughts to find out about the process of volunteering.
The initial outpouring of support from the broader community for the refugee families was astounding and, equally importantly, has remained strong. With that support, all of the families have been able to locate housing, schools, and employment. The Simcoe County Board of Education now provides an English as a Second Language (ESL) course three mornings a week to help the newcomers enhance their language skills. As well, the SPICE program at the Collingwood Public Library provides additional ESL help on a one-to-one basis with the assistance of senior volunteers. With a good command of the English language, the opportunity for better jobs increases. Learning English is really a newcomer’s job for the first year and, therefore, it is the initial focus upon arrival. Once a basic level of English is achieved, finding employment is much easier. Working also helps to improve language skills and gives the individual a positive sense of self as they are able to make their way in a new place.
• Assist in covering international travel costs to Collingwood
• Subsidize appropriate housing in Collingwood
• Provide food for the families during their initial settling-in period
• Transportation as required
• Counselling as needed
• Access to English as a Second Language classes and tutoring
• Assistance with pre-school or daycare as needed
• Assistance with schooling as needed
• Assistance with health costs not covered by OHIP
Our Syrian Sponsorship Committee has access to many resources that have helped reduce some of the above costs. Until a third family arrives, we do not need further donations of household furnishings or clothing. Please check our website regularly for updates for requests for needed goods and services.
In the summer of 2018, the Diyab and Issa families celebrated their first year in Canada at a picnic including all of our Syrian newcomers plus many from Collingwood's two volunteer committes that sponsored them.
The Kurdish Tambur being played by a newcomer whose family of five chose a welcoming Collingwood as their new home.