Opportunity Knox finally received some good news. Because the volunteer group had successfully raised more than $40,000 to support a Syrian refugee family to come to Canada, it has begun raising the smaller amount of funds required (about $15,000) to sponsor a BVOR family.A BVOR sponsorship (Blended Visa Office-Referred) Program matches refugees identified for resettlement by the United Nations Refugee Agency. In this case, the family is arriving in part, thanks to support from the Presbyterian Church of Canada, which is assisting with the refugee costs and is a recognized Sponsorship Agreement Holder with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Opportunity Knox would pay the first and last month’s rent while the Presbyterian Church in Canada, along with a Jewish Family Services and Refugee Hub in Ottawa are assisting with refugee costs. Opportunity Knox would pay the first month’s expenses, as well as months 7 to 12, while Immigration Canada will pay for the other six months of expenses.
Opportunity Knox spokesperson Lisa Jennings said she received word last week that a family of four will arrive sometime this fall, likely within the next six to 12 weeks.
“Everyone is so excited,” said Jennings, who adds that it has been a long wait.
“We are still really hoping to hear that the other sponsored refugees’ files are moving forward. In the meantime, it feels good to know that we can help someone very soon and that they will be able to find peace and friendship here,” said Jennings, who has been in frequent contact with refugees selected for sponsorship by Opportunity Knox. Jennings has formerly said that because the original refugee group (a couple, which now has a small child and an unrelated university student) are “named” refugees, there is a long wait-time for approvals needed for them to relocate to Canada.
As far as the family of four is concerned, Opportunity Knox is seeking housing for them within Vankleek Hill and is also hoping to find local people who can speak fluent Arabic.
Jennings says that Opportunity Knox wants to host the new family in the town of Vankleek Hill.
“We feel that this way, they can walk to all amenities, and hopefully meet new friends here. They will be able to visit the library, and begin to learn English, which will be the first priority. We are hoping to find suitable accommodations in the next few weeks,” she said in an email sent to the Opportunity Knox group.
“Second, we are hoping to find some translators who speak fluent Arabic. It is especially important at the beginning, when the refugees are nervous and everything is new to them, to ensure that their questions are answered, and that the family feels comfortable here. We will be using electronic translators such as Google Translate, but there are times when only a human translator will do!” noted Jennings.
“We would really like to thank all the members of the community – there are so many of them – who have been so supportive of our project and have volunteered time, donated items, made financial contributions and offered emotional support. We are very grateful, very nervous and very excited!” she said.
If anyone would like more information or would like to offer to help with translations or accommodations, please contact Opportunity Knox at [email protected], or call Lisa Jennings at 613-677-4138.