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Wabush mayor part of effort to support Syrian family

Colin Vardy
Colin Vardy

Rubble rests where a mother once cooked for her children.

A chair smolders where a father sat with a book after a long workday. The upstairs has fallen to the downstairs in a barrage of missile attacks. A home destroyed one violent night.
Entire neighborhoods have vanished in war-torn Syria as families fled for safety. Some have not made the trip alive, while the fortunate ones wait to hear where they will be settled.
Wabush Mayor Colin Vardy feels the urge to help.
“Imagine deciding to cross dangerous waters with your kids for a safer life. When you’re making those types of decisions things are bad.”
With 25,000 refugees settling into Canada, Vardy and a core group of 12 like-minded residents are hoping to raise $30,000 to bring a family to Labrador West.
He hopes to co-sponsor with the Association of New Canadians based in St. John’s, a sponsorship agreement holder with the Government of Canada that administers most of the refugee applications for the province. The government will provide six months of income support, which is a little over $1,200 per month for a family of three, plus their child tax and child benefit.
Vardy would have to provide the other six months of income.
Not that it’s a lot for the family, he noted.
“Even though our economy has cooled off, it’s almost impossible to live on $1,500 a month.”
Vardy budgeted a comfortable life at $30,000 for a family. However the budget is based on the cash value of donations, such as what it would cost for dinnerware or furniture.
“If someone donates a $500 bed we’d start counting down our donation goal from that. Some people have donated in-kind services, household items, lodging items, clothing, furniture.”
So far the group as $3,000 in cash donations or $11,000 including items, and needs another $4,000 in cash.
Vardy said they also need to be able to demonstrate not only to the government but the community that a Syrian family could be supported.
“People who speak the language, share similar religious beliefs, that they can get a doctor and those types of services, how can the schools support a child with limited to no English ... We’ve got to pull all this together.”
Vardy has identified at least 10 residents who speak Arabic and are willing to come forward and help with translation services. He added the Filipino community has been eager to help, as some have worked in Saudi Arabia and surrounding countries where they picked up some of the language.
“And they’re excited because it was only a couple years ago they were being introduced to our province. To see them wanting to help is honouring. And they were hit with the same negativity we are now, sadly.”
As Vardy and his group seeking donations say  they’ve been met with criticism. Some local residents feel donations should be made for families in the area hurting from the downturn in the economy.
Vardy said it’s about helping families facing tragedy.
“What are we nervous about here in this community? How are we going to make our skidoo or truck payment? Don’t get me wrong, those are serious concerns. But the needs of the local people and the needs of the refugees are not comparable — their homes are blown up and it’s not safe to live there anymore.”
Vardy said he understands why people would choose to support local residents, and he has no intentions of stopping local donations to give to the Syrian refugee donation.
“We know people may not agree with what we’ve done so we’re not going to groups like the food bank to ask for donations, because some of those donations may have been given from someone who didn’t agree with our cause.”
Everyone is free to turn down solicitations, he said.
“We’ll do our own food and clothing drives and go to doors to ask for donations and, if you say no, we’ll say OK and go on to the next house, and let them make that decision.”
Donations can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/kuez7r5g

A chair smolders where a father sat with a book after a long workday. The upstairs has fallen to the downstairs in a barrage of missile attacks. A home destroyed one violent night.
Entire neighborhoods have vanished in war-torn Syria as families fled for safety. Some have not made the trip alive, while the fortunate ones wait to hear where they will be settled.
Wabush Mayor Colin Vardy feels the urge to help.
“Imagine deciding to cross dangerous waters with your kids for a safer life. When you’re making those types of decisions things are bad.”
With 25,000 refugees settling into Canada, Vardy and a core group of 12 like-minded residents are hoping to raise $30,000 to bring a family to Labrador West.
He hopes to co-sponsor with the Association of New Canadians based in St. John’s, a sponsorship agreement holder with the Government of Canada that administers most of the refugee applications for the province. The government will provide six months of income support, which is a little over $1,200 per month for a family of three, plus their child tax and child benefit.
Vardy would have to provide the other six months of income.
Not that it’s a lot for the family, he noted.
“Even though our economy has cooled off, it’s almost impossible to live on $1,500 a month.”
Vardy budgeted a comfortable life at $30,000 for a family. However the budget is based on the cash value of donations, such as what it would cost for dinnerware or furniture.
“If someone donates a $500 bed we’d start counting down our donation goal from that. Some people have donated in-kind services, household items, lodging items, clothing, furniture.”
So far the group as $3,000 in cash donations or $11,000 including items, and needs another $4,000 in cash.
Vardy said they also need to be able to demonstrate not only to the government but the community that a Syrian family could be supported.
“People who speak the language, share similar religious beliefs, that they can get a doctor and those types of services, how can the schools support a child with limited to no English ... We’ve got to pull all this together.”
Vardy has identified at least 10 residents who speak Arabic and are willing to come forward and help with translation services. He added the Filipino community has been eager to help, as some have worked in Saudi Arabia and surrounding countries where they picked up some of the language.
“And they’re excited because it was only a couple years ago they were being introduced to our province. To see them wanting to help is honouring. And they were hit with the same negativity we are now, sadly.”
As Vardy and his group seeking donations say  they’ve been met with criticism. Some local residents feel donations should be made for families in the area hurting from the downturn in the economy.
Vardy said it’s about helping families facing tragedy.
“What are we nervous about here in this community? How are we going to make our skidoo or truck payment? Don’t get me wrong, those are serious concerns. But the needs of the local people and the needs of the refugees are not comparable — their homes are blown up and it’s not safe to live there anymore.”
Vardy said he understands why people would choose to support local residents, and he has no intentions of stopping local donations to give to the Syrian refugee donation.
“We know people may not agree with what we’ve done so we’re not going to groups like the food bank to ask for donations, because some of those donations may have been given from someone who didn’t agree with our cause.”
Everyone is free to turn down solicitations, he said.
“We’ll do our own food and clothing drives and go to doors to ask for donations and, if you say no, we’ll say OK and go on to the next house, and let them make that decision.”
Donations can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/kuez7r5g

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