A volunteer group determined to help two refugee families start a new life in Berwick is on the lookout for suitable housing options.
The Berwick & District Refugee Settlement group has raised more than $50,000 to sponsor two families forced to flee from their war-torn communities in Iraq nearly five years ago.
“These families are actually Christian, as opposed to Muslim, and so they could have been very easily persecuted… because that’s what was happening around them,” said Edith Menzies, chairperson of the Berwick-based group of volunteers.
One couple has a four-year-old boy, and the other family includes four children: an 11-year-old girl, nine-year-old girl, seven-year-old boy and three-year-old boy.
“The families that we have coming, their parents were sponsored and came to Middleton. These are two married daughters,” said Menzies.
The young families are living in crowded, sub-par conditions in Lebanon while awaiting the final approvals necessary to begin their journey to Canada. In December, they were scheduled in for a second set of interviews with a Canadian Visa Officer in Beirut, and the subsequent medical exams.
Menzies is optimistic the time-consuming application process will soon come to a close, and the families will be arriving in Berwick in early 2018.
“The whole process is out of our control and it takes the time that it takes,” she said, noting that the sponsorship group formed about two years ago.
“We just need to be patient and know that it will happen.”
The group is actively searching for two-bedroom and three-bedroom housing options in Berwick in order to have furnished accommodations secured for the families before they arrive.
“Whatever we get will be Heaven to them I’m sure,” she said.
Menzies is thrilled to know that the ongoing generosity of private citizens, local churches, businesses and service groups will result in better opportunities for two young families that have endured unimaginable living conditions.
“It’s really hard to imagine how they live and what they’ve experienced,” she said.
“This will be life changing.”
Anyone with information about prospective housing options for the incoming families can call Irmgard Lipp at (902) 538-8714, or e-mail Menzies at firstname.lastname@example.org.