August 2018 Update from Susan Davis

WRSG Members at YYJ

As Tim Davis wrote on the Westshore Refugee Sponsorship Group Facebook post on May 13th, “There are currently 22.5 million refugees in the world. Last night it was a pleasure to greet 5 who had just become newcomers, their long 7-year ordeal over.”
We have been working with this family for just over 3 months now. We have:
• found an apartment,
• moved in donated household goods,
• stood in lines for ID cards,
• learned some Arabic,
• learned to use Google Translate,
• registered for school,
• registered for ESL,
• taught some ESL while we wait for classes to begin
• enjoyed some delicious home-cooked Syrian meals
• enjoyed a pot-luck Canadian barbeque
• learned some new bus routes
• been to doctors’ appointments
• been to dentist appointments
• and a whole host of other activities.
What a joy to introduce these newcomers to our beautiful city. Time spent at the ocean or at a local park is filled with all the fun and laughter you may expect.
We still have no idea all that the family has been through before arriving on that cool May night. Language skills preclude the ability to communicate about specific details. Perhaps some day we will be able to share our stories – our story of preparation, and their story of leaving – but for now we are learning a new dance of culture and language as we get to know this lovely family.
One of the biggest blessings has been seeing our city and our country through new eyes. We have so much to be thankful for! We have so many opportunities! Another fun blessing has been to see how similar we are – a mom who loves to shop second hand stores, a dad who loves his girls and wants nothing more than to be able to work to provide for them, children who are shy to meet someone new, who love to play at the park, who fight with their sister, and who get grumpy when mom or dad says “No.”
For all of you who have had a part in this sponsorship, thank-you! Thank-you for your generosity; thank-you for helping to make it all happen. For any of you who may be wondering about being part of a sponsorship group yourself, I highly recommend it! Yes, there is hard work, and yes there are disappointments and challenges. But when you take all those and stack them up against one smile from someone who was trapped and is now free – it is all well worth it.
If you want to keep up with our story, we communicate more often on our Facebook page. “Like” it, and you will get notified when something new is posted.

Volunteer Meeting & Social

We’ll enjoy some refreshments together, meet some of our new volunteers, and go over some important guidelines and information as we anticipate what is required to help the new family settle in Victoria. We will have a checklist to indicate which tasks/roles you wish to undertake, which day(s) and times you are available, whether you are available to help on short notice, and so on. Some of the roles/tasks will include driving, shopping assistance, bus buddy (help them get used to the bus system), visits with the family, supplementary language support, use of local community centre, going to community events, playdates, child care,  etc.

Volunteer Update – June 2017

From Linda Van Sickle, WRSG Secretary

Just in time for summer, here’s an update for our WRSG volunteers:

The Festive Evening event at Church of the Advent on Saturday, May 13th, was a wonderful success in every way. There was lots of fun and socializing as well as generous bidding on an amazing array of auction items. The Church of the Advent has turned over $2,000 to WRSG from the net proceeds for the evening. This means that we have now gone “over the top” of our goal of raising $30,000 to support our family for the first year after their arrival in Canada, expected sometime in the fall.  (They will also receive about $18,000 from the federal government in Canada Child Benefits.) Thanks to all of you who helped and/or came to enjoy the evening! The fundraising aspect of this WRSG undertaking has called upon a lot of effort, imagination and generosity on the part of many people during the past year, and we want to thank you all for every part you have played in this success.

In our last update of April 10th, I told you about the online sale of original paintings by Rebecca Barnard that she donated to WRSG.  Nine of the ten paintings are now sold (8 sold at the auctions during A Festive Evening), and at Rebecca’s suggestion, the remaining painting will be given to the family after they arrive to hang in their new home. Thank you again, Rebecca, for your generous donation of your artistic gifts.

On May 22nd, the WRSG core committee met at the home of the brother of the husband of the family we are sponsoring, as he’d arranged for us to “meet” the family by video phone call that day. What a wonderful, exciting time it was for all of us to be able to greet the parents and their three lovely young daughters. They are very excited to come to Canada, especially the oldest girl, who is 7. Her father sent a text to his brother after the phone call to say that she wants to come to Canada NOW!

There is much to celebrate and still much to do to prepare for their arrival, for the core committee as well as for all the volunteers. To that end, there will be a meeting/social time for all volunteers on Monday, July 17th, at 7 pm at Westside Bible Church, 3307 Wishart Road. At this gathering, we will enjoy some refreshments together, meet some of our new volunteers, and go over some important guidelines and information as we anticipate what is required to help the new family settle in Victoria. We will have a checklist to indicate which tasks/roles you wish to undertake, which day(s) and times you are available, whether you are available to help on short notice, and so on. Some of the roles/tasks will include driving, shopping assistance, bus buddy (help them get used to the bus system), visits with the family, supplementary language support, use of local community centre, going to community events, playdates, child care,  etc. Please note that drivers are required to have at least $3,000,000 liability coverage in their insurance. Please also note that WRSG is not able to reimburse car mileage for drivers and bus fares for bus buddies.

Please remember, if you intend to have direct contact with the family as a WRSG representative (i.e.: shopping, driving to appointments, child care), you must have a criminal record check and a completed volunteer application on file with the Diocese, and you are required to take their Sensitivity Training workshop. Contact Susan Davis for upcoming training dates, or for the volunteer application form.

We know that you may not be in town or otherwise not be available to come to the meeting on July 17th. If that is the case, can you please let Susan know, and she’ll make sure that you have the checklist to complete by email?

You may be interested in reading the document Refugees from Syria, found by using the link below. It provides a wealth of good information about all aspects of Syrian culture, history, and current situation. The core committee has been reading through it together at our meetings and are finding it to be very helpful. Open culturalorientation.net/library/publications/refugees-from-syria, then click on the link below the title Refugees from Syria to download a PDF.

We are getting closer to actually welcoming this family and beginning to help them settle, thanks in no small part to your ongoing interest, help and support. Enjoy the summer, and we hope to see you on July 17th!

Wonderful News

We have some wonderful news to share!  In late January, we learned that our application to sponsor the family with whom we have been matched has been approved by Immigration Canada!  The application has now been sent on to Lebanon where the family is currently staying.  It will take another eight months or so before the process is completed and they are able to come.  However, it is fantastic to know that we are officially underway!

PaintIns

January PaintIns were a great success, and the February 7th session is already fully booked. However, there’s still space for you on February 10th (watercolours) and on March 7th or 10th (mixed media). Did you miss the January sessions? Here are photos:

For more information, see the Home page.

News from the WRSG – September 2016

Great News! We have raised enough money to be matched with a refugee family. We now know who our family will be. Fundraising continues, with an amount of $14,000 still needed to meet our requirement to support the family for one year in the Private Sponsorship program. If you would like to provide financial support, see here.

Two events are upcoming – a Volunteer Gathering on October 6th with coffee and dessert, and A Night of Music on October 22nd – and more information about each is on the home page here. Bring your friends and neighbours for a wonderful evening of music!

Any questions? Contact Susan Davis at susan@wrsg.ca. Thanks for your interest, prayers and support!

Download Newsletter or Download Poster for A Night of Music