The Church of the Ascension has sponsored a refugee family from Iraq and the church members can’t wait for the family to arrive.
The family of three, who will be making their home here for good, far away from their war-torn country, is currently in east Lebanon where they now live after escaping from Iraq.
Their travelling documents to Canada are currently being processed but according to Sandra Digras, who is the chair of the Catholic church’s refugee sponsorship committee, nobody knows how long it will take.
“They’ve had two interviews at the Canadian embassy and are now waiting for the visas,” said Digras. “Once they get that, they will be given a date to fly and their tickets. We’ve been told that status of their visas are in progress but that’s an ambiguous term so there is no concrete date of arrival.”
In the meantime, the committee is making all the preparations for the anticipated arrival of the family. Their biggest challenge is finding a reasonable rental home in the community.
“We are looking for someone who has an investment property that they can rent to us at a rate that we’re allowed to pay,” said Digras.
“Even though we raised the money, the government does not want you to pay more than what the family would have to pick up when they’re working on their own and have a job. They gave us a guideline for a family of three. They should pay between $800 to $1,100 a month.”
Digras said the rental housing situation in Parksville and Qualicum Beach just got harder following the fire in one of the apartment buildings in the community recently.
“We want to get a commitment early from someone rather than doing it later when the family arrives,” said Digras.
In Port Alberni, a member of the community there, rented out a property to a refugee family, said Digras, who is hoping someone here in the Parksville Qualicum Beach community would do the same.
As well, Digras said, they are trying to find entry-level work for the husband, who is working as a car mechanic in Lebanon.
“He doesn’t speak English well and does not have a mechanic’s certificate but we’re hoping he’ll get an entry level ability to work even at minimum wage so that the government can see he is making an effort to apply whatever knowledge he has and get a job,” Digras explained.
The husband and wife will be enrolled in an English as a Second Language Program.
Digras said they are unable to reveal the names of the family for security reasons.
“It could be dangerous for them if anybody read their names in the paper, they could get at them before they even get the chance to get here,” Digras said. “All I can tell you is that they are in their mid-20s and their child is going to be two years old in November. They are Christians originally from Nineveh, Iraq. And being Christians they had to run for their lives.”
Anyone who has rental properties and are willing to help this family can email Digras at firstname.lastname@example.org.