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Interact refugee pic

Students from the RSS and J.L.Crowe Interact Club met on Wednesday, Feb. 24 with Christine DeMarco, of the West Kootenay Friends of Refugees.

Ms DeMarco, who taught several of these students as kindergarteners described  the work of the WKFoR and gave an update on the two families who have been sponsored so far.

The WKFoR is eagerly awaiting the arrival of a Syrian family, who should be flying in to the Trail airport shortly.  The Interact club had placed donation jars in RSS and J.L. Crowe and were pleased to present five hundred and fifty dollars to help with the resettlement of the new refugee family.

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Lun Lun San & Aung Ko Ko Latt

Lun Lun San & Aung Ko Ko Latt

In December, 2013, the West Kootenay Friends of Refugees (WKFoR) welcomed Lun Lun San, Aung Ko Ko Latt and their son Samuel to Rossland. Originally from Burma, they had been living in Malaysia where they were selected for sponsorship by a Canadian government program set up to assist refugees. After eighteen months, we are happy to report that things are going well for the San Latt family. In March of last year, the family increased by one with the birth of Michael David, a healthy and happy Canadian baby.

Aung Ko Ko and Lun Lun have been working to learn English with the help of four local teachers and an ESL program in Trail. As well, they have enjoyed trying out their language skills on the Rosslanders they meet at play school, Strong Start and the typical gathering places in town. Aung Ko Ko has found work at two local businesses and is happy to be supporting his family.

Now, thanks to the generosity of Rosslanders, the WKFoR have sufficient funds to begin helping another family come to our community. Our application has been accepted to sponsor an Eritrean single mother, Ruta, with two young sons, Yonathan and Eyobed, ages four and five. Her religion is listed as Christian and she speaks a language called Tigrinya.

Eritrea is a country infamous for horrifying human rights abuses and oppression. Ruta was forced to flee her home country after her husband disappeared. Surviving threats, violence and torture, she was able to make her way to a refugee camp near Cairo, where she is currently awaiting her trip to Canada. To find out more about Eritrea, google the country name and UN probe for a recent report from the United Nations.

Like the San Latts, this family will receive six months of support through a government program before they become financially dependent on the WKFoR. If all goes well, our new family could arrive in about a month, so the pressure is now on to find a suitable location for them to live and plan how to help them make a fresh start. If past experience is any indication, we will be offered many household items and will be keeping a master list so we can track what is needed. No donations of goods will be accepted now, but we will be asking for them when the family’s arrival date is established.

The WKFoR is a very small group of dedicated people with no special expertise, just a belief that we should try to make a difference where we can. Based in Rossland, we are actively seeking new members who can share the responsibility of making this new family welcome in our community. There are dozens of jobs that need to be done, from helping with transportation and shopping to just dropping in for a chat. We would welcome new members from Trail or Warfield.

For further information, and to volunteer, please contact: Jan Micklethwaite, 250-362-5289.

To read more about a UN investigation into the situation in Eritrea google: http://news.yahoo.com/horrific-abuses-systematic-widespread-eritrea-un-probe-085934386.html

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In December 2012, students and staff from l’École des Sept-Sommets initiatied a fundraising campaign called « Vide tes poches ! » to help the two Burmese families who will soon be arriving in our community. « Vide tes poches » means empty your pockets, so this is what they did. They collected spare change and emptied the piggy banks!

 

It was also a good opportunity for students to learn some geography and a little history. Teachers had to answer many questions such as: Where is Myanmar? Where is Malaysia? What are refugee camps? Why is Canada committed to helping refugees?

 

The students were all very excited to see photos and learn the names of the families who will soon be part of our community. Everyone is looking forward to meeting them!

 

The younger students did a sorting activity to divide all the coins collected and a few of the older students helped with rolling and counting (Thanks to Alexander and Griffin!). l’École des Sept-Sommets, a small school of 40 students collected $367.01! The school would like to challenge other schools and groups in the community to beat that!

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