Kitchener Waterloo Outreach Group and Parkminster Help Syrian Refugees
Along with the families that Parkminster as a congregation has directly sponsored, Parkminster has joined with four other United Churches from Kitchener/Waterloo in a partnership with the Kitchener/Waterloo Outreach Group (KWOG) in bringing 11 families to our city. KWOG members are grateful for each and every valuable act of service on the part of Parkminster members.
For the last six years, these new families have been marooned in countries bordering Syria to where they escaped during that war. They have lived with constant needs and fears from threats to deport them back to Syria where their homes and communities lie in piles of rubble, and dire repercussions from the Syrian government await them for having fled. We surely have seen this reality as it is now being played out in the Ukraine. What is unique is that all but one of our new arrivals have families already living here in KW who were sponsored by our government in 2016 during the Syrian war. These families are now fully settled and, in turn, are ready to help settle these loved ones as they arrive.
Parkminster Resettlement Committee
In 2018, the Parkminster family decided to sponsor relatives of the Al Mohammeds, who had come to Canada in 2015. Rob McQueen submitted an application to sponsor Siham Al Mohamed with her seven children, aged 4 to 15, and another for Fadi. Siham is Khairiya Al Mohammed’s sister, and Fadi is nephew to both women.
A new Resettlement Committee was formed in 2019, co-chaired by Nancy Dykstra and Jim Bowman.
Siham and her children arrived on December 16, 2020, in time for a long Covid lockdown! They began life here in Nancy’s home, which gave the children access to a backyard during quarantine and play space in adjacent Victoria Park afterwards. Park play dates became the first one-on-one contacts with the family.
In February they were able to move into their current home, which is co-ordinated by a Parkminster family.
Throughout the year committee members have met weekly with Siham, completed paperwork, taken the family to appointments and social activities, and assisted with shopping, transit and school needs. We have also been blessed by support from friends and strangers who have no connection to Parkminser.
While our financial support for Siham has now ended, many committee members and Parkminster volunteers will continue their personal support. Siham has said, “All of Parkminster are my family now.”
Our hope for Fadi to arrive with Siham did not materialize. Lessons in patience were many along the way, and he finally arrived on December 7. He lives with Khairiya and Yehya, whose children speak excellent English. He is very grateful to be here.
As Jim was driving him here from the airport, Fadi said, “You will always be part of my life story.”
Siham and Fadi’s words reveal the depth of relationships that Parkminster’s “YES” to sponsorship creates. In this journey together we are truly walking on holy ground.