Update - Syrian Refugees Play and Practice English at the U of L
On Sunday May 15th, volunteer activities will wrap up that have had roughly 50 Syrian refugees playing and practicing English at the University. Since mid-March, a dedicated group of volunteers organized events for 40-60 Syrians in space donated by Sport and Recreation Services. While older kids played soccer, younger kids were entertained with a whole bunch of different activities from colouring to parachute-play. Keeping 30 or so kids busy was essential to give their parents time to practice their English in small groups with many UofL students, staff, alumni and community members.
The program relied on dozens of volunteers, all enthusiastically donating their time to help welcome newcomers to our community. While there were too many volunteers to mention a few special shout-outs have to be given to translators Nurah Eblesh, Abdulbasat Aborawi, Ahmad Smoudi, Omaima Elkebbe, and Muna Ali ; soccer coordinators Beth Bidarian and Janay Nugent; ESL volunteers Jemma Dallas and Melanie Collado; and amazing children's coordinator Larissa Miller-Hay made the whole program possible looking after volunteers and many small children.
And of course thanks to our Syrian guests who bravely came to see what we had going on at the University, and gave it their all!
Update - Student Refugee Initiative (February 29, 2016)
Our students have formed a club under World University Service Canada (WUSC) and they are fundraising now to bring a student refugee to campus a in Fall 2016. WUSC has worked to bring refugee students to universities and colleges in Canada for almost 40 years. For more information on the program see: http://wusc.ca/en/srp
The University of Lethbridge has made a substantial committment to the student refugee effort so we have been able to fast-track this process and will be able to bring a student to the University of Lethbridge for Fall 2016, assuming the students can raise the remaining $10,000.
The WUSC University of Lethbridge club has a few initiatives in the coming weeks. First, they've set up a bursary account specifically for this fund. If you go to the UofL donations page (http://www.uleth.ca/giving/make-gift) and specify that you would like your donation to go to the WUSC Student Refugee Bursary, your charitable donation will go to funding this student.
In addition, the Annual International Dinner on March 10th will have a silent auction with funds donated from that sale going to support this student refugee program. Even better, those funds will be generously matched by Scotiabank.
The students are also organizing awareness-raising events and fundraisers on campus. This Monday and Tuesday, they will have a coffee and bakesale in the PE Building from 9:00-12:00 (coffee donated by Campus Coffee Company and baked goods by members and the Delta Eta Iota Sorority). Info on that here (https://www.facebook.com/events/1652152095050468/)
WUSC's tagline is "Changing the world through education, one life at a time." In some sense, that's what we always aspire to do at the UofL, but in the case of student refugees, it seems especially meaningful.
Update - February 8, 2016
Thanks to the amazing generosity of the University of Lethbridge community, we’ve been able to sponsor a family of four Syrian refugees, who arrived in Lethbridge on February 7.
After a long journey, they are settling into their new home. Their place has been well furnished and set up by a dedicated group of volunteers, and many generous donations. “Our” family is part of an extended family of 14, and we’ve found a larger house where 6 of them will live, and two apartments less than a 3 minute walk away, where the other 8 will live. The set-up is perfect, and very close to a school too.
We’ve raised almost $33,000 of our $36,000. From first-year students through professors emeriti, from every walk of campus, people have been amazingly supportive.
We also want to thank our community partners (particularly the Church of the Ascension in Coaldale), but also Saint Theo’s in Taber, Saint Augustine’s in Lethbridge, the Lethbridge Mennonite church, the other private sponsors, and the University community, we have made this dream a reality!
Update - November 16, 2015
The UofL Refugee Action Committee submitted the papers to begin the process of bringing a Syrian refugee family of four, with an 8 year old boy and 7 year old girl, to Lethbridge. To date, we're over halfway to our goal of $35,000. Our October winner of a $100 gift certificate from the UofL bookstore was Valerie Richardson, in Faculty of Fine Arts.
We are now able to accept e-transfers! If you would like to do an e-transfer, please email Erin Phillips at email@example.com
About the U of L Refugee Action Committee
The University of Lethbridge Refugee Action Committee is a volunteer group of the University community formed to sponsor a refugee family to come to Canada and settle in Lethbridge. There is a desperate humanitarian crisis taking place as millions continue to flee Syria. To be able to come to Canada, refugees need private sponsorship. The Canadian government estimates that it will take about $30,000 to support a family for one year. In addition to the financial contribution, the initiative also requires ongoing contact and support for the family for at least the first year.
To leverage existing expertise in the community, we are joining with other community partners who have already begun the processing of bringing Syrian families to Canada. “From Syria to Lethbridge” is an umbrella group that will work with ecumenical and community groups such as ours to sponsor additional families. It already has established a relationship with the Mennonite Central Committee, which is a government-approved “Sponsorship Agreement Holder.”
The UofL Refugee Action Committee will partner with the University Chaplain, Erin Phillips and her church, the Anglican Church of the Ascension, which welcomes non-denominational community partners. Moreover, they are able to issue tax receipts for donations. We will work together with the larger “From Syria to Lethbridge” group. The aim of these coalitions is to create a community of support. Because of the broad nature of this community support, the Mennonite Central Committee has made Lethbridge a priority centre.
A benefit of this initiative is that 100% of funds donated will go directly to settling refugee families in this community.
If you would like to contribute financially, or in other ways (such as fundraising, donating required goods, helping settle the family once they’ve arrived, or in other ways), please either complete the Donation Form (PDF), or for more information, talk to anyone on the committee, or email Anne Dymond at firstname.lastname@example.org
Refugee Action Committee: Robin Bright, James Dobbie, Anne Dymond, Becky Lore, Luis Escobar, Claudia Gonzalez, Jean Harrowing, David Logue, Jamie MacKenzie, and Erin Phillips.