While awaiting processing of the Somalian Salah sisters Family Links co-sponsored with St Ninian’s CARE, Tri-HEART refocused our resources and took advantage of the Ottawa Hub’s attempt to place several hundred of 2018 allotment of BVOR families that hadn’t yet been placed. A switch to SAFE as our SAH was facilitated once they were able to assure the required spaces. On Nov 6th 2018 some Tri-HEART members and members of several Antigonish’s recent Syrian families welcomed the Abo Alhawa family with their two young children.
With the tight rental situation in Antigonish and the issue of transportation from the rural environs, this family was settled in a 2 bedroom apartment within the town. After limited English language training due to pre-Christmas conflicts with ESL trainer schedules, the first months of 2019 has picked up the pace regarding the critical language training. Alaa got his beginners license and commenced driving lessons on Jan 3rd while passing his driver’s test on Feb 15 with his first car purchase over that weekend. So the family is now mobile and achieved that first step in independence in their new country.
The three communities of St Andrews, Heatherton, and Giants Lake wished to be able to welcome the family to what we consider a vibrant rural community (2009 NS Lieutenant Governor’s Community Spirit award).. With the need to have the house centrally located in the community and near its services, the convent had great potential in that it had been recently vacated by the sisters of St Martha after 86 years of community presence. The sisters responded to Tri-HEART’s ask in their spirit of charity by removing the house from the market, offering to hold it vacant and available until May as the arrival of the refugee family might typically take up to five months, and thereafter for up to a year rent free with Tri-HEART covering the utility and operating costs.
Click here for an article from the The Canadian Press
Recent efforts have been broadening our involvement with the other Antigonish sponsorship groups (SAFE, ST Ninian’s, and StFX) to be better versed in the many responsibilities in welcoming what could well be a half dozen families. To assure successful integration into our collective communities, educational aspects have included webinars on sponsorship process and presentations on the physical aspects of welcoming and settlement for the refugee family. For that stage we are gathering a “volunteer inventory” of time, talent, and treasures required to truly make this a home among friends such that they may add to the wonderful fabric of this community that has been populated since its founding by individuals seeking a better life from a homeland of adversity.