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unity state south sudan 560A Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) food distribution centre, with local partner ECS-SUDRA, in Unity State, South Sudan where the United Nations has declared a famine. MCC photo

Editor's note: Saugeen Shores Hub was informed October 10 that the SSRF committee has found housing for the family. The story has been updated below. 

Hub Staff

Come Thursday, October 12, members of the Saugeen Shores Refugee Fund (SSRF) will be meeting a new Congolese family of six who have fled conflict caused by non-state armed groups and elements of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and will begin a new life in Saugeen Shores.

Katherine Martinko of the SSRF said that the SSRF, with the help from the Mennonite Central Committee, will support the two parents and four school-aged children. A fifth child is currently missing and will join the family if he is located. The committee has found housing for the family and is eager to get them settled in. The children will attend school as soon as they are able. Volunteers who can speak Swahili are still needed as well as volunteer drivers to help the parents get to and from English classes in Owen Sound. 

The parents, one of whom worked as a bicycle repair mechanic, are originally from the Congo and have children born in Zambia with the family seeking refuge in Tanzania. In 2016 the SSRF welcomed the Al Ibrahims who resettled in Saugeen Shores from Syria. Through a donation from the Port Elgin Rotary Club as well as their previous fundraising, the group had enough money to support a second family.

“We’ve opened up our criteria,” said Martinko. “We expanded it beyond the Middle Eastern crisis for this next sponsorship because it can be very hard to get Syrian families now, the crisis is still happening but the government will prioritize matching new families with any contacts they have in Canada.”

Martinko said by opening the criteria it enabled the SSRF to help the family from South Africa which has been in conflict arguably longer that the one in the Middle East. “It does feel like we’re making a difference here,” she said, adding that she feels a strong feeling of gratitude to the Saugeen Shores community for making this possible. “Having settled one family successfully makes us all the more into doing it a second time.”

Anyone wishing to get involved is asked to email saugeen.refugeefund@gmail.com.

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