A group of Brandon churches is closer to welcoming its first group of Syrian refugees into the city.
Neighbours 2 Newcomers was originally matched with a family of nine from Syria and was told late last year to expect their arrival over the following months. However, those plans have changed, according to Taralee McMillan, a member of the group organizing the effort.
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She said the family, which included a mother, father and seven kids between four and 17 years old, could not be located for their final interview.
"We now have been matched with a family of five," McMillan said. "A 62-year-old mother and her four children, who are actually between 20 and 30 [years old]."
McMillan said she is confident this will be the family that moves to Brandon as all of the required paperwork has been submitted. She said the group has been told to expect the family to arrive any time within the next one to four months.
However aside from the usual challenges associated with settling new families into Canada, this family could have an added hurdle.
"Three of them actually hold bachelor's degrees," said McMillan. "One of the next steps is to contact the university and find out how we can get their education as recognized as possible."
McMillan wasn't sure what the degrees are in.
Despite the added challenge, McMillan said the process has been a good learning experience for everyone involved.
Good response from community
"We've had a tremendous response from the community," McMillan said, while standing outside a room at the Richmond Park church packed with donations. "We've received lots of household donations."
So many donations, in fact, that McMillan had to stop and think about what the group still needs.
"We're still looking for some dishes," she said. An updated list is expected to be posted on the Neighbours 2 Newcomers Facebook page in the near future.
Volunteers will also be painting the inside of a house the group has rented for the family this upcoming weekend.
And they might not stop at just one family. McMillan believes the group has the ambitions to help more than one family move into Brandon.