The Al Sheblaqe family of Syrian refugees landed at the Penticton Airport on Feb. 14. The family

Committee sponsored two refugee families

Within the span of less than a year, the Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group has brought two families to the community.

Within the span of less than a year, the Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group has brought two families of Syrian refugees to the community.

The first meeting, an information session, was held on Dec. 2, 2015, when Doug Holmes organized a discussion on how to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis.

Less than a week later, 26 people attended a follow-up meeting and the refugee sponsorship group was formed.

The group quickly received support from Summerland council and from the community.

Holmes, chair of the group, said around $50,000 was raised in the first four to five months.

“Raising money was the easy part in this,” he said.

The sponsorship group also received donations of in-kind services and furniture.

A rental house was acquired in February and on Feb. 14, the Al Sheblaqe family arrived in Summerland.

“We were ready for them,” Holmes said. “We had a settlement plan in place. We were incredibly organized.”

In March, a second house was rented and the Abdulrahman family — friends of the Al Sheblaqe family — arrived.

The family of six, under a federal government sponsorship, had been living in a hotel in Vancouver for six months.

The Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group was incorporated as a nonprofit society in May.

Holmes said the group’s focus has changed.

“Once the families arrived, the focus shifted to supporting these families,” he said. “The families’ milestones became our milestones.”

Terry Green, a member of the committee, said the community has been supportive.

Close to 80 people have expressed interest in volunteering.

“It’s been amazing the number of people who have been committed to this venture,” he said.

Jean Munro, who has been helping the Al Sheblaqe family, said the family has been adjusting to their life in Canada.

“It’s not so much the English as the cultural literacy,” she said of the family’s biggest challenge.

“They seem to be doing so well, but they still have so much more to learn.”

Jacquie Foley, who has worked with the Abdulrahman family, said the family members are learning English and adjusting.

Adnan Abdulrahman, the father, has started a small business, repairing cell phones, computers and other items.

Foley said this business allows him to earn money and make connections within the community.

Holmes is impressed with the support the families have been shown.

“With these two families, we’ve gone over the top,” he said.

“These two families have been treated like royalty.”

The committee has almost enough money in place to support a third refugee family, although there are no immediate plans to bring in an additional family.

“The more we do it, the easier it’s going to become,” he said of the sponsorship process.

“This has been a huge learning experience this past year.”

 

Just Posted

Budding tennis stars learn the ropes

Students at local elementary schools get some lessons in tennis

Lawsuit claims medication mishandling at Penticton’s hospital

The claimant says her doctor ramped up her bipolar medication before cutting her off

Indigenous grad rates make big strides in SD67

Educators are praising major efforts toward inclusivity for the recent improvements

Mamas for Mamas founder survives with new lease on life

Kelowna’s Shannon Christensen escaped a dangerous situation and lived to tell about it

Valley First Endowment grant helps OSNS in 2017

The grant for the OSNS teaching kitchen just one of the ways First West helps communities.

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Philadelphia Eagles headed to Super Bowl

After routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington on Vancouver Island

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, vehicles buried under more than three feet of snow

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Lawsuit claims medication mishandling at Penticton’s hospital

The claimant says her doctor ramped up her bipolar medication before cutting her off

Coquihalla drivers prepare for snow

Wintry conditions persist, with snow warnings for Coquihalla

Tychonik continues scoring run

Vees chalk up another win with Pink in the Rink

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Most Read