on December 10, 2015 by test_editor in Archive_2015, December, Print Articles, Comments Off on December 10, 2015: Welcome to Canada, Friends; Parkdale United Church Sponsors Syrian Family.

December 10, 2015: Welcome to Canada, Friends; Parkdale United Church Sponsors Syrian Family.

December 10, 2015: Welcome to Canada, Friends;
Parkdale United Church Sponsors Syrian Family.

By Faye Beaufort, Refugee Sponsorship Group, Parkdale United Church.

Parkdale United Church, led by the Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey, has long been a church that opens its doors to welcome refugees. This began in the 1980s with the Cambodian and Vietnamese refugees, – often referred to as the “boat people”. Between 1980 and 1987 Parkdale United Church sponsored four families.

The custodian of our church – Khan Chao – came from Cambodia as a refugee some 35 years ago and has been working at the church all these years. The last family we sponsored came in September 2009. They are the Abu Nasars who were originally from Palestine. Forced to leave their familial Palestinian homestead, they fled first to Kuwait, then to Iraq, and finally to the Al Hol refugee camp within Syria, They came to Parkdale from there. They are all Canadian citizens now, and living in southern Ontario.

As 2015 draws to an end, we are redoubling our efforts to sponsor, and welcome to Ottawa, the Saleh family from Syria. They are presently in Jordan, taking refuge from the the violence in Syria.

We started the sponsorship process in early 2014; however, we experienced such a slow process that the family became very discouraged and we lost contact with them. We have now regained contact and, with the new initiative on the part of the Canadian government, we are hopeful that the process will move faster and that they will arrive early in the New Year.

Of course, in accordance with government regulations, our church needed to raise $30,000 to receive and accommodate the seven family members. We began our efforts to raise money in 2014 by holding dinners, a murder mystery play, and staging other events.

The concert “Parkdale’s Got Talent” held on November 21, 2015 was our biggest fundraiser. All the performers, except one group, were volunteers from Parkdale United Church giving enthusiastically of their time and God-given talents.

The Ottawa based “Hallelujah Gospel Chorus” choir, who has also entertained at our “In From The Cold” Saturday afternoon ministry, added to the rich variety in the program and had the guests rocking joyfully in the sanctuary. It was heart-warming to have the Saleh family member who lives here in Ottawa convey words of gratitude and love from her family in Jordan. Admission to the concert was free with a free-will offering collected.

We raised over $3,000 at the concert and the next day, Sunday, members of our congregation and visitors gave enough to bring the total to just under the required $30,000.

We are also very grateful to the Hintonburg, Wellington West, Westboro community for all their support in this venture.

We are now equipped with the funds and plan to work diligently with the government and the Saleh family member, who is the co-sponsor, to bring our family to Ottawa as quickly as possible.

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