When the Lacombe Community Refugee Effort was settling the Al Omars in town two years ago, Martine Varekamp-Bos was overwhelmed by the public’s support for the Syrian refugee family.
“(It was) beyond what we expected. Finding employment was a good process, getting the kids into school was amazing. The school system has been very supportive of these kids and they still are today,” said Varekamp-Bos, a regulated immigration consultant.
“On Jan. 1, three of the family members celebrated their birthday and their stove broke. The neighbours actually let Naema and her family use their stove to cook all this food for the party. So the neighbours have been wonderful.”
With parents working, and four kids in school, the Al Omars are the success story people want to see. Varekamp-Bos wants to produce another, by reuniting Naema with her sister, Khadija, and her two children.
She said when the Al Omars left for Canada, Khadija, a single mother, was left to fend for herself in Beirut, Lebanon.
“They’re basically living in a concrete room with very limited services. They’re using an alcove in the room for their bathroom, don’t always have heat or electricity,” Varekamp-Bos said.
The application was submitted to Immigration last summer. Varekamp-Bos is hoping that Khadija can arrive in six months to a year.
It will cost some money, she says, and the Lacombe Community Refugee Effort is taking donations through churches that banded together to start the organization: St. Andrew’s United, St. Cyprian’s Anglican, Wolf Creek Community, Bethel Christian Reformed and St. Stephen Catholic Parish.
As well, Varekamp-Bos says they will be fundraising with a highway cleanup on May 5, and through a GoFundMe page.