Eritrean refugee family to arrive in Summerland

Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group working to resettle family of six from African country

The Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group is looking to bring another refugee family into the community.

The family will be the fourth family of refugees to come to Summerland in the past three years.

However, while the past refugee families were from Syria, this family is from Eritrea, in eastern Africa. Each day around 3,000 people flee the country to escape persecution and torture from a totalitarian regime.

“We formed to respond to the humanitarian crisis that was happening in Syria at the time,” said Doug Holmes, president of the Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group, “but we were not established to only help one nationality.”

The family of six — two parents and four children aged three, nine, 12 and 13 — are now living in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, awaiting the opportunity to come to a new home.

Holmes said the family has not yet received approval from the Canadian government,

That step is anticipated shortly. After that, the timeline to bring the family to Canada is estimated at between six and 12 weeks.

Holmes said the costs involved with sponsorship are manageable. Under the blended sponsorship model, funding will come from the Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group and the federal government.

He added that the group still has money left over from its last sponsorship efforts.

The father and the children in this family speak a little English, but their primary language is Tigrinya, a language spoken in Eritrea and parts of Ethiopia.

There are some speakers of this language in Penticton and Kelowna.

“Language is only a barrier for a very short time,” Holmes said.

During the first year, the family members will be working to learn English.

Holmes said the previous refugee families in Summerland have already developed a fluency in English.

The Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group is now looking for volunteers to help the family with government paperwork, banking, budgeting, shopping, community orientation, transportation, medical appointments, language skills and more.

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