In late January, BDRA finally got the call from the government to ask if we were willing to sponsor a family of six currently living in a refugee camp in Jordan – and we gave an enthusiastic YES!
This wonderful news has launched the preparations for the arrival of this family into full swing – and the overwhelming outpouring of support from the people of Burlington would make any heart swell. So, from all of us at BDRA – thank you!
We thought we’d update you on what’s been happening since then as we prepare for our Syrian family.
Most importantly, through the wonderful staff at City Hall, we have available some transitional housing for our family!
This house is an amazing opportunity for our family to get their bearings in a new country – thanks to Jennifer, our wonderful friend from City Hall, who saw the potential of the house and, with the assistance of Ron, also from City Hall, we signed the agreement with the City for the house to be on loan for us for a short period, and got the key.
Since then, the house has gone through an amazing transformation. The empty, unwelcoming, and cold house has been made into a warm, loving and welcoming home.
Last week work on the house began in earnest, with countless volunteers providing their time, paint, furniture and skills simply because they wanted to ‘give back’.
The house (now with a full oil tank) was warm enough for some of us to go in on Tuesday and prepare the walls for the next day’s painters. All utilities had been hooked up incredibly quickly with thanks to Louise telling our story and having people at the various utility companies keen to assist us.
Painting began and our volunteer painters filled the house!
Lots of people came and went throughout the day, which made it a happy place with lots of fun and laughter (and plenty of Tim Horton’s coffee to keep us fuelled). And the community noticed! Locals Perry and Rheta lent a hand, giving up their entire day and evening to paint, and a mother with her two daughters stopped by and were so delighted to hear that a refugee family was coming to live in their neighbourhood. She promised to look out for them, and we are thrilled to know that our family will be welcomed so warmly.
Everything seemed to be running smoothly until we turned on the water and had a flood in the downstairs landing and bathroom. Fortunately Jennifer recommended Darren, who came out immediately and repaired all five leaks. Perry and Rheta even came back in the evening to be with Debbie from City Hall – all working hard to complete the ‘to do’ list for the day.
Everyone worked so hard that we were even able to start unpacking the kitchen, while our furniture donations started to arrive – with special thanks to Veronica, our furniture coordinator and Mike with his truck. Jennifer, her husband and son fixed all the holes in the ceiling and floor, and an electrician (another contact of Jennifer’s) came to check all the electrical outlets.
Our incredible volunteers at work
Stuart and Janice visited a delightful and engaged Grade Three classroom in Bronte to receive a check for $1,200, which they raised from selling home-made cookies and hot chocolate in order to help the BDRA. Not only that, but they are also cooking pancakes this week to raise even more money for us! Meanwhile, more household donations started to arrive and the final coats of paint were finished in readiness for John’s cleaning crew to arrive at 5 p.m.
In a few short days, the house has been transformed into a bright and clean environment.
The furnishing of the house begins (and some more unexpected repairs)!!!
Janet and Jen came in early to find all the wonderful pieces of donated furniture waiting in the garage to be put together for a complete living room and dining room.
Mike picked up the appliances with help from Dean. Ryan, a contractor redoing Terry and Carrie’s kitchen, delivered their old stove only to discover that the wall needed rewiring to accommodate the stove. He and his crew set to work rewiring the kitchen immediately without a second thought. Dean and Ray then moved on to the bathroom to fix the damaged tiles surrounding the bathtub, while Michael and George spent the afternoon installing the washer and repairing some leaks along the way. All this in a day!
The rest of the day was spent unpacking. The house was full with volunteers (at least 15 people in house at one point), including the 6 firemen from Fire Station #8 who pulled up in their fire truck to inspect the house, install smoke detectors, and leave instructions in Arabic for our family. They even left behind gifts for the children, including 4 teddy bears they have on hand for traumatized children. Thanks once again to Jennifer from City Hall for arranging this. Finally, Patti and Karen came in the evening to transform the children’s bedrooms upstairs.
Needless to say, it was truly wonderful to watch this house being transformed and see a community come together to help welcome our family.
So to everyone who has helped – be it with time, money, furniture, paint, food, or contracting skills – we could not have achieved so much in such little time without your support, generosity, and goodwill. The outpouring of support throughout all of Burlington for our refugee family has been incredible, but not surprising – and for that, we thank you.