KELOWNA: Syrian family to be reunited with daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren in the next 3 months
Now, the Central Okanagan Refugee Committee is sponsoring Ebitsam and her relatives to come to Canada and join the family in Kelowna.
“The Syrians in Lebanon are under increased persecution from the Hezbollah, so their situation kind of deteriorated,” said Jodine Ducs, treasurer of CORC.
Ebitsam and her husband, Osama, have four children under the age of seven, including one-year-old Mohammad, who was born in Lebanon as a refugee.
“I have never met my two youngest grandchildren,” said Mohammad Alshahoud in Kelowna. “I am so happy that they will be able to be safe in Canada.”
The federal government plans to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of March.
This will include a mix of privately sponsored and government-assisted refugees. The six-person Al Sweileh family will be included in that 25,000 promise.
“(There is) a little slight disappointment, I say very slight, on CORC’s behalf, because we had hoped it would be 25,000 government-sponsored refugees, plus the private sponsorships,” said Ducs. “But, ultimately, however they get here, that’s the main thing.”
Ducs says she hopes the Al Sweileh family will make it to Kelowna in the next three months.
“It’s hard to tell, because they could be expedited,” she said. “But we’ve learned that it’s hard to give a timeline.”
CORC estimates it will need $25,000-$30,000 to support the family for the first year in Kelowna. A number of fundraisers are planned, including a speaking event with Canadian author Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes and The Illegal, Dec. 17 at Mission Creek Alliance Church.
“We’re hoping that the Lawrence Hill event will bring in $10,000 to $15,000,” Ducs said.
After the family is in Kelowna for a year, CORC expects them to be able to provide for themselves.
Tickets to the Lawrence Hill event can be found here.