Refugee family sponsored

A family of refugees from troubled East African nation Eritrea has been sponsored by the Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group to join the community.

The group, which previously sponsored two now-settled Syrian families in 2016, makes it its mission to help refugees from around the world.

This particular family is comprised of a mother, father and four children aged three to 13.

Doug Holmes, president of the group and district councillor, said they're very excited to welcome the family, but the process is now in the hands of the government.

"They've gone through security clearance and medical checks, they're what they call 'travel-ready,'" Holmes said. "What happens now is the government reviews our application to sponsor them, and then it could take six to 12 weeks for the family to arrive here."

Holmes said his group carefully reviews families before selecting them for sponsorship to ensure the community of Summerland can properly support their needs. For example, they made sure there was a small Eritrean community nearby, in Kelowna, who speak the native Eritrean language and are willing to help with the transition.

"It really is a large, daunting task to sponsor a family," said Holmes. "But if you get a good group of people with different skills and you break it down, it becomes more manageable."

With the support of the Summerland community at large, the group will help the family with housing, medical needs, English skills, jobs and everything else they will need to get their footing.

A public meeting seeking volunteers to help with these tasks was held Wednesday evening, and was attended by over 40 people. 

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