An update on our refugee program

In December we asked for your support to help us bring a family fleeing the crisis in Syria to Canada. In the past few short months, you answered that call with nearly $10,000 in donations and pledges. This is in addition to the $17,000 we had confirmed before putting out the call.

Never let anyone tell you that atheists won’t donate to charity. This is the proof of that generosity. Thank you so much.

I want to give you all a brief update of where we're at in the process.

Since December, our small committee of volunteers has been hard at work with our pro-bono lawyer to identify a family to sponsor and to complete the paperwork to get through the bureaucracy.

The first hard reality we’ve had to come to grips with is that Canada’s system for private refugee sponsorship is heartbreakingly slow. While some procedures have been expedited since the Syrian crisis developed, it’s still a matter of months rather than days or weeks before even the most experienced groups can bring a family to Canada. And for the most part we’re all pretty new to this.

But I do have some progress that I can share.

We have identified an family of atheists that has fled Syria and is in the process of gaining refugee status. While we’re not certain that we’ll be able to help them right away (it might be a year before they’re through the system), we have another lead from an agency that works to reunite refugees with their family members in Canada. We are doing what we can to make sure we can help whoever we can as quickly as possible.

Part of our focus right now is on developing our settlement plan. As we will be taking responsibility for this family, we need to identify the people to be responsible for making sure all of the nitty-gritty details of settling into a new life are taken care of. This ranges from making sure they register for MSP and BC ID cards to showing them how to use Translink and where to find the best grocery stores in their new neighbourhood. It includes planning some social events and having people on hand in case of an emergency. And much, much more.

We’re lucky in that among our volunteers we have most of the major responsibilities already assigned, but we will undoubtedly need more hands on deck, particularly when we get close to the landing date and as the family settles into Vancouver.

So we’re looking for people who are willing to express an interest in volunteering when the time comes. This isn’t a firm commitment yet but merely a way for us to gauge the level of support we’ll be able to draw upon when the time comes. Most importantly, it will help bolster our application by showing that we have a team ready and willing to help.

Let us know you can help.

And if you haven’t yet, please donate to support our efforts. We’ve earmarked every dollar we’ve raised so far for this project and will use any excess to continue this project into the future.

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