November 14, 2015 - 9:30 AM
KAMLOOPS - A local group started raising funds last month hoping to bring a Syrian family to Kamloops, but now their workload has increased substantially as they’ve signed on to assist four families moving to the area.
Refugees and Friends Together, known as the RAFT group, began constructing a plan to bring a refugee family to Kamloops earlier this year. Originally, organizers planned to bring only one family at the time as the cost was around $30,000. But Martha Ashbaugh, a volunteer with the group for over 30 years, says funds poured in to fund the one family and more. The group has signed on for two more agreements in which the federal government pays half of the funding and plans to assist another refugee family moving to Clearwater.
The group, which partners secular and non-secular members alike, has the United Church as a sponsorship agreement holder for federal funding. Ashbaugh, who’s managing the related paperwork says after hosting an information session on Sept. 29, over 100 people came to learn more about how they could help.
“We’re still at the 'wait and see’ stage,” Ashbaugh says. “(The federal government) says they’re bringing 25,000 refugees before the end of the year. We don’t have any details for how that’s going to happen. We’re still in the process of pulling it together."
Ashbaugh doesn’t know when the families are set to arrive. She doesn’t know names or birthdates of the members of the four families either and only has a few details. One family has two parents and three children. Another is a couple expecting their first child.
“We doubt they’ll get here before the baby comes, but who knows,” Ashbaugh says.
Another family is a mother and father with their teen son and adult son. The family which may end up in Clearwater is two young adults and their toddler, she says.
"As fundraising goes along and if we can afford to, we have the people who want to work with families. We will try to sponsor them if we can,” Ashbaugh says.
Those who want to make a donation to the fundraiser can do so at www.kamloopsunited.ca.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015