Syrian refugee sponsorship group raises $27K in little over a month
Crichton Park Friends of Refugees is one of more than 100 private sponsorship groups in Nova Scotia
Private groups looking to sponsor Syrian refugees are sprouting up around Nova Scotia and now number more than 100 across the province.
Crichton Park Friends of Refugees in Dartmouth is one of the newest and has raised $27,000 in a little over a month.
"This whole thing has been organic," said Deborah Woolway, chairwoman of the group.
"Initially there was a little, 'Gosh can we do this?' You know there's a lot of money to raise and it's getting on to Christmas and we sent out a few feelers, and then one coffee and muffin date and that was it, we were off to the races."
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Crichton Park Friends of Refugees is working closely with Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia.
Nabiah Atallah, manager of communications and outreach at ISANS, said there are now more than 100 private sponsorship groups working on bringing Syrian refugee families to Nova Scotia.
"There is a special thing about private refugee sponsorship, which is that the family that is sponsored comes in with a group of Canadian friends. They start off with a group of friends in the community," said Atallah.
History of helping
Carole MacLean is one of the volunteers involved in the Crichton Park Friend of Refugees. She said her neighbourhood is full of people with many skills to pass along to refugees once they arrive.
The neighbourhood put those skills to work in the past. In the 1990s, they helped bring in children from Belarus suffering from radiation exposure as a result of the Chernobyl explosion.
Mark Ring and his family brought over a little girl, Christina.
"We brought one over and another family said, 'we can do that,' and all of a sudden we had our own little group here in the neighbourhood doing this," said Ring.
Of course, bringing a Syrian family over and helping their transition to a new life is even bigger.
Woolway said her group is ready for the task and needs to raise just $3,000 more before making their formal application.
She remembers how sad she felt watching those first pictures of refugees escaping in boats too small and waters far too rough.
"It's a feeling of being helpless, and thinking, I can't do anything and then I thought, you know what: we can do something," said Woolway.