A local group is moving forward on an iniative to sponsor a Syrian refugee to come live in Revelstoke.
The group Revelstoke for Refugees was formed following a meeting last month, and they are now moving quickly to complete the applications and raise the money needed to bring a family of refugees here.
“We’re hoping that the community will welcome this,” said Rana Nelson. “This is a big thing in the world now. I have experienced Revelstoke to be a welcoming, friendly, open community. I’m hoping that the family we bring over will be embraced in the same way our family has been and many others have been.”
The Syrian refugee crisis has emerged as the biggest international crisis over the past year, with millions fleeing the conflict in their home country. Most live in refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, while hundreds of thousands have sought asylum in Europe.
The new Liberal government has set a target of accepting 25,000 refugees by the end of the year.
Revelstoke for Refugees has met several times. They are working with the Alliance Church to sponsor a refugee family. The church is a Sponsorship Agreement Holder, which means they have processes in place to sponsor refugees, said Nelson.
The Revelstoke Community Foundation is also helping out by collecting donations on behalf of the group.
To sponsor a refugee family, the group is expected to provide for their basic living needs for a year while the family gets set up in their new home. Revelstoke for Refugees hopes to raise $60,000, which is regarded as the minimum living wage for a family of four here, according to a report released earlier this year.
The money will go to help them with their living expenses, and allow them to take part in community activities. “We don’t want people to survive, we want them to thrive,” said Nelson.
The group is planning a major fundraising drive this winter, and hopes to begin the application process in the spring, once the money is raised.
“I’m not worried about raising the money. I think we’ll be able to do that,” said Nelson. “We’re hoping this will be a real cross-community initiative.”
Once the application is approved, they will be matched with a family. Nelson said they will try to target a family with stronger English skills, because of the limited services available in Revelstoke for non-English speakers.
The group will have its next meeting at the community centre on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m. If you would like to get involved, e-mail Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also donate through the Revelstoke Community Foundation website, or by visiting the visitor information centre or Revelstoke Credit Union. “Our only point is to get somebody out of crisis and into a safe place and get their foot in the door to start a better life,” Nelson said.
Find out more about Revelstoke for Refugees on their Facebook page.