A Maple Ridge church is hoping to sponsor an Iraqi family of four and reunite them with relatives in Canada.
The Burnett Fellowship Church is trying to raise money to sponsor a family forced to flee Iraq.
The husband, wife, and their two children, a 13-year-old autistic son and an 11-year-old daughter, are currently living under the United Nations in Jordan after receiving death threats starting in 2003.
Blair Garbutt, who is on the refugee sponsorship committee with the local church, said the family had been threatened with death if the husband didn’t leave.
“Between ISIS and other terrorist groups over there working with the government, they would choose certain names of Sunni families that they would want to kill to start wars between the Sunnis and the non-Sunnis,” said Garbutt.
The family has had bullets mailed to their house and the husband’s sister’s home was destroyed after he took shelter there.
“They are killing their own people to start a civil war. They basically want [the country] to be in turmoil,” Garbutt said.
Then the autistic son was almost kidnapped in front of their house.
Autistic children are prime target for bombers, explained Garbutt, and are used as suicide bombers because they are unable to speak out.
The family finally decided to leave for Jordan in 2006.
The Burnett Fellowship Church is working with the Mennonite Central Committee, which sponsors families to come to Canada who already have family living here.
This family has cousins living in Prince George and Coquitlam.
“I like this idea,” said Barry Waterman, who is organizing a “Car Boot Sale” to raise the $27,000 the church group will need to bring the family over.
“They are going to have a better chance at settling if they have family already, not just in Canada, but in the province. Prince George, of course, is not around the corner. But, certainly, in terms of the size of Canada, it’s not bad,” he said.
According to the federal government, sponsoring groups must provide refugees with care, lodging, settlement assistance and support for one year, starting from the refugee’s arrival in Canada or until they become self-sufficient.
Waterman is still looking for vendors for the Car Boot sale, which will be held in the parking lot of the Burnett Fellowship Church.
There is room for 47 outdoor parking lot vendors and 30 indoor vendors. The outdoor spots will be by donation and vendors will be able to put out their own table or tarp and sell from the back of their vehicles.
There is a $30 charge per table for an indoor spot. The vendors are able to keep their own profits, but whatever donations the church receives will go towards sponsoring the family.
There is no entry fee for buyers.
A pancake breakfast and hot dogs will be available by donation.
“The car boot sale is what we call a garage sale in England,” said Waterman. “Just that the population density in England, you wouldn’t necessarily have a lot of room in the front of your house to have a garage sale. So people would take their stuff to a farmer’s field and set up a community garage sale.”
Waterman is concerned that others may question why the church is helping a family from another country when there are homeless people in Maple Ridge.
He explained church members volunteer at the Salvation Army in Maple Ridge, and make and hand out thousands of sandwiches on the downtown east side in Vancouver.
“We are helping four people out of 65 million people displaced,” he said, citing a report by the United Nations Refugee Agency that says a total of 65.3 million people were displaced last year due to war and persecution.
He says the group hopes to have the family here by the spring of 2017.
The “Car Boot Sale” and market take place Aug. 20, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine in the parking lot of Burnett Fellowship Church, 20639 – 123 Avenue in Maple Ridge.
Doors will be open at 7 a.m. for vendors to set up and they are asked to be ready by 8:45 a.m. on the day of the event.
Volunteers are still needed to help with parking, greeting, food services, set-up, clean-up and the bake sale and coffee station.
To volunteer go to https://www.burnettfellowship.com/MarketVolunteer or to find out more about the program go to https://www.burnettfellowship.com/RefugeeSupport , email email@example.com or call 604-465-4418.