How to help a refugee family
BY DEBRA FIEGUTH
Since that day in early September when the im- age of a tiny boy’s body washed up on a Turkish shorebegancirculatingin
the media, thousands of compassionate Canadians have been wondering what they can do to rescue
families fleeing conflict.
Refugee sponsorship is a serious
undertaking with many challenges
and demands, but it can be one of
the most rewarding experiences
you’ll ever have.
Here are some points to consider
for church groups thinking about
First, educate yourself
about the crisis. The
situation in Syria is complex and
frightening. It has been going on
for almost five years, since the
Arab Spring of 2011, and has been
compounded by the presence
of the Islamic State of Iraq and
Syria (ISIS). There are now some 4
million Syrians outside their own
country, and another 8 million who
are internally displaced. They are
both Christians and Muslims. Half
of them are children.
You can sponsor Syrians who
have fled to Lebanon or Jordan or
Turkey, but you cannot currently
sponsor them from European countries, which are considered “safe
third countries.” Nor can you
sponsor people directly from Syria.
Here’s what you can do.
Find out if your
denomination is a
Holder (SAH) with the Federal
Government, which will make
the process smoother because
of the experienced leadership
you are demonstrating you have.
For a list of denominations and
other organizations affiliated
with The Evangelical Fellowship
of Canada that are helping
refugees, see www.theEFC.ca/
Form a support group
(called a Constituent
Group), either within your
church if it is a large one, or
together with people from
like-minded churches in your
Decide whether you
want to sponsor a
family already identified by the
Federal Government, or one
you have learned about through
acquaintances in your community.
A prescreened family (called
Blended Visa Office Referred)
will be able to travel to Canada
sooner. And the reason it’s called
“blended” is that the Federal
Government provides six months
of financial support through
the Resettlement Assistance
Program (RAP) for the one-year
commitment you will be making.
If you know someone with a
family member or acquaintance
overseas needing help, then you
could do a full private sponsorship.
In these cases the family would not
have been interviewed at a visa office
yet, so the process takes longer. The
advantage for you is that it gives you
a longer time to fundraise. (
Donations to your church or denomination for refugee support are tax re-ceiptable.) But be prepared to wait.
Although Syrian refugees are arriving more quickly than many others
A Syrian refugee girl carries water at Suleymansah refugee camp in Akcakale, Turkey. Canadians are able to sponsor refugees from camps like these.
have fled to