More than a year after the wheels were set in motion to have a family of Syrian refugees sponsored to live in the Trinity South community, supporters finally have concrete news about the family. The Association for New Canadians informed the co-sponsoring group two weeks ago that the family includes two parents and four boys aged four, six, 12 and 13 years.
"I'm excited," said Courtney Howell, a Grates Cove resident involved with the group. "I hope that this is just a good new beginning for this family."
Through a federal government program, over 41,000 Syrians have fled the war-torn country and come to Canada. As of the beginning of this month, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees identified over five million registered Syrian refugees. A third of those refugees are children age 11 or under.
According to Howell, the wait period for arrival from the point of official approval ranges from four to 12 weeks. This means the family could arrive anywhere from late August to right around Canada Day.
The group ceased fundraising efforts some time ago, but will now jumpstart that campaign with hopes of raising an additional $3,000 on top of the $10,000 already raised. This money will help the family make it through their first year in Canada.
Accommodations and furniture are for the most part looked after. Rooms and beds for the parents and two older boys are already in place, but the third bedroom in the family's home is smaller than the others, according to Howell, so the group is on the lookout for a trundle bed — a design feature wherein a hidden bed can roll out from underneath another bed for evening use.
Then there's the clothing. Howell said these families typically arrive with very little in terms of their own possessions, and they're generally coming from a warmer climate than what coastal Newfoundland has to offer. The group is looking for gently used clothing.
"Anything from light long-sleeved shirts to light jackets, even if people have winter clothes and boots that they would like to donate, that would be wonderful," said Howell. "And the kids will be going to school. Part of the initial expense will be to get school supplies for them."
Howell reached out to people on social media and is already hearing from friends and neighbours who intend to look through clothes their children may have outgrown.
"People are starting to respond, and of course they want to know the sizes, and we don't know yet," she said. "So I think once we meet the people, people will donate even more."
Howell anticipates there will be a welcoming celebration in the community shortly after the family's arrival where people can come and say hello to Grates Cove's newest residents.
The co-sponsoring group includes residents from Grates Cove, Carbonear and Western Bay.