Fergus group raising money for refugee family

A group of community members called Under the Same Sky is planning to bring a refugee family to Fergus.

Kaela Anderson said she was troubled by the News of the refugee crisis in  Syria and wanted to do something about it.

“I felt like I kept seeing people wanting to do stuff and I felt like I had lots of big ideas that don’t go anywhere but I have to just write this email and see where it goes and it was great,” said Anderson.

After her initial email more members joined, including Tara Galberg.

“Our formation of our group basically probably started in the school playground … and one by one people got pulled in that were interested,” said Galberg.

“It was all as a result of the News.”

For Anderson, a quote stuck in her mind.

“‘If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together’ and I think that’s what we’re doing. We’re achieving things because we working together,” she said.

The group, through the Mennonite Central Committee, is using the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) program, where refugees are referred to Canadian visa offices abroad directly by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

“We have a goal of approximately how much we want to raise with the understanding that we are going to start with one family and attempt to bring one family over and not necessarily a Syrian family, but a refugee family from any one of the many countries that people are fleeing currently due to conflict within,” said Galberg.

Anderson added, “When we started this I think we were all thinking Syrian families but through Mennonite Central Committee they sent us the profiles and at the time there wasn’t any Syrian profiles.  We’re reading through them and seeing people from Eritrea and the Congo and Burma. These people have been refugees for decades.”

The group is trying to raise $50,000 for a family, plus enough to cover travel expenses.

“We’re going to raise our money before we pick our family … Mennonite Central Committee has a recommended amount to raise, we’re going to raise more because (the refugees) are responsible for their own flights but we would like to help them out with that and it’s a base amount,” said Anderson.  

Each member has their own reasons for joining the group, including Jennifer Young, who wanted to help but did not know how.

“Just seeing the refugee crisis and feeling like there were so many that needed help and there was so little that I could do on my own, but I wanted to do something … together we could make a difference even if we could just help one (refugee),” said Young.

Karina Cranston, another group member, said, “Why do we have it so good and so many people do not? So I feel maybe I’ve been blessed with this so that I can bless others … I can’t think of a reason why not, it takes sacrifice but that’s love, that’s reaching out and helping.”

According to UNHCR there were 14.9 million refugees worldwide at the end of 2014, up by 2.7 million from the previous year. Of that, Canada brought in 23,286 refugees in 2014, according to Statistics Canada.

“They had no idea that this was going to happen to them. They were like us … it could be me one day and I would want someone to help,” said Anderson.

Rebecca Grimes, a member of Under the Same Sky, said Canada should be helping in the refugee crisis, even if Canada has had tougher economic years.

“A lot of things have been happening in Canada over the last little while, but this one in particular, we have such a long standing tradition of accepting refugees, we are a country of refugees and immigrants,” said Grimes.

Anderson, who chose the name for the group, said the monicker means everyone is in it together.

“In Centre Wellington we have the room,” the group wrote in an information booklet.

“We have room for one more family to play at the park.  We have room for one more family to skate at the rink. We have room for one more family to pick a book at the library.

“We are all part of the human race. We live under the same sky.”

Under the Same Sky is planning a number of fundraising events in order to meet its goal. For updates visit facebook.com/UndertheSameSkyCW or on twitter @underthesameskycw. To donate, visit donate.mcccanada.ca/registry/under-same-sky.