An award-winning children’s group will perform at Knox United Church in Parksville to raise money for a Syrian refugee family to come to Canada.
The Kerplunks will play at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25 as a benefit concert for the Hesham Refugee Sponsorship Group.
The sponsorship group is a collection of Parksville and Qualicum Beach residents who are raising money to bring the relatives of Parksville’s first Syrian refugee family to Canada.
The group has been working to bring Hesham Aihbiyou and his family to Canada for some time now. The family have been cleared by the federal government to come to Canada, and the group has been redoubling their efforts to raise the funds to make it happen.
Aihbiyou, his wife and children are currently in Turkey right now, having escaped Syria. The family is currently trying to sort out paperwork for their resettlement into Canada.
Samar Al Hbayo came to Parksville in December of 2017. She’s is looking forward to being reunited with her brother, his wife Noor, and their children.
“It has been 10 years since we saw each other face to face and I have never met my niece Fatima and nephew Mustafa. Hesham is my brother that was closest to me in age so we spent a lot of time together as children before we were forced to flee our home in Syria,” said Al Hbayo.
“I talk to them almost every day on WhatsApp. I worry that they might be arrested and returned to Syria to live in a camp on the Syrian-Turkish border, where they wouldn’t be safe from the Syrian police and from bombing from the Syrian army and its allies.”
Playing in benefit of the family is coastal band The Kerplunks, a children’s entertaining group that’s been together for 15 years. Two of the four members of the group live on Gabriola Island, one in Nanaimo and one on Malcolm Island.
Dinah D is the spokesperson for the band. She also plays the upright bass, and is excited for this opportunity to give back to others through music.
“We’re really looking forward to the show for Hesham and his family as well. …. and helping to bring a family over to Canada,” said Dinah.
“It’s exciting for us to know that we’re helping other people in the world, too. It’s really really cool. We’re honoured to be asked to be part of this excellent event.”
Dinah says although the show is for kids, it’s high-energy and relatable to everyone.
“We are really well-known for putting smiles onto everybody’s faces – people of all ages. We are also known for getting people up and dancing. People can expect to have some funny humour, and loads of music. We’ll do a little bit of educating about our instruments. Definitely good, light-hearted family times for all generations,” said Dinah.
The group has been playing together for 15 years, since the release of their first album. All the members are musicians outside of the band, and were a little bit surprised by the success of their kids’ music project.
“We didn’t expect that it would be so successful, but our very first album was nominated for the Junos, and the Canadian Folk Music awards, and a bunch of national awards, not just in Canada but in the States as well. Our second album was shortlisted for the Grammys,” said Dinah.
“We didn’t expect to be children’s entertainers. My goodness. We all have lots of different bands that we play in, in bars and touring festivals. We all do other freelance work for other, way more famous people. So it was kind of a pleasant surprise when the Kerplunks really took off.”
The group plays mostly original music about all kinds of things. They sing material about standard kids’ stuff – bicycles, bees and more, but also about more interesting, science-based topics like getting fresh air.
“Just having a blast writing material about everyday things, but also kind of funny surprising things, like bugs, or things that are just a little bit different. … It’s been such a fun ride for us. We love being The Kerplunks,” said Dinah.
The group is promoting their fourth album, a lullaby album.
They won’t play too much of that at the show though, since they want it to be upbeat, but Dinah says the album is already up for a number of awards.
“I think the best part for me is … I still get so much joy out of every single show that of course we stay active. We just love seeing kids’ smiles, and love seeing them connect to our lyrics. It’s a really rewarding thing,” said Dinah.