Revelstoke couple donate their home to Syrian refugee family

Reilly Geidt and Kristina Welch are donating their home to the Almastou family when they come to Revelstoke this year.

Kristina Welch and Reilly Geidt are donating their Southside home to the Almastou when the arrive in Revelstoke from a refugee camp in Jordan later this year.

When the Almastou family arrives in Revelstoke from the refugee camp in Jordan where they now live, they’ll have a nice home with lots of space ready for them.

Reilly Geidt and Kristina Welch are donating space in their five-bedroom house in Southside to Rakan & Medheya Alamstou and their five children.

“We have a lot of space and we can do it, so we felt like we should and we wanted to,” Welch told the Review in an interview.

Geidt and Welch live in a five-bedroom, two-bathroom house with a huge back yard in Southside. The house has four bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, and one bedroom, a bathroom and kitchen downstairs. They are renovating it to add a second kitchen and the Almastou family will be given the upstairs and the front part of the main floor.

“The house is naturally set up to be divided like that,” said Welch.

The Almastou family was chosen to come to Revelstoke in March. The family consists of father Rakan, mother Meheya, and five children between one and nine years old. They have been living in a refugee camp in Jordan for the past three years.

PHOTO: The Almastou family — Rakan, Medheya and their five children, are expected to arrive in Revelstoke within the next six months. ~ Photos contributed

The donation of a home has completed the fundraising efforts of Revelstoke for Refugees, the organization that has spearheaded the effort to bring a Syrian family to the community.

They have raised $50,000 in cash, said the organization’s leader, Rana Nelson. “Thank you to this wonderful community,” she said.

Welch said they would not be charging the family rent, but would ask them to help pay for utilities. She said she has some books on how to welcome refugee families. When asked if she was learning Arabic, she replied: “I don’t know any Arabic but I suspect we’ll have to learn some of it.”

Nelson said she was told the Almastou family is taking English lessons at the refugee camp.

The big question now is when the Almastou family will arrive. Nelson said it could be up to nine months now that the Trudeau government has reached its goal of bringing 25,000 refugees to Canada and has stopped expediting claims.

Another question is whether Revelstoke for Refugees will work to bring in a second family.

“We want to get the first family in place,” said Nelson. “We want to see what the appetite is for a second family. We don’t want to get donor fatigue.

“If there’s somebody that wants to donate a second house, we can start working towards a second family,” she added.

Welch said they offered their home after listening to an interview with Nelson on the CBC. She said they’ve enjoyed downsizing into their small part of the home.

“There’s a real feeling of abundance that comes from offering up what you have that caught us off guard,” she said. “We don’t have a lot, but the ability to give what you can makes you feel wealthy that you have enough to give.”