BY KALISHA MENDONSA
Members of the Lacombe Community Refugee Effort have been working hard to help ease the growing pains of the Al Omar family since their emigration from Syria earlier this year.
Those who take part in the Community Refugee Effort have truly lived up to their title. There are nine official committee members, but Marlene Ironside, who was instrumental in beginning the effort, said thousands of people throughout Lacombe have stepped up in one way or another to help the Al Omar family.
“Originally, a friend of mine and myself got organized and started holding meetings and putting together publicity opportunities until one day it seems to have just exploded,” Ironside said.
“We were sure that there was support here in Lacombe and we saw it through thousands of people. There were so many people who wanted to do something and they just needed some direction.”
Ironside said there has been overwhelming support throughout the community, with fundraising events, donations and people stepping up to volunteer time and effort to help the Al Omar family settle in.
“We’ve got people in charge of transport and babysitting and scheduling. Other people are in charge of medical and dental needs, and we’ve got other people who help with the massive amounts of paperwork we have to work through,” she explained.
Ironside said the Committee is made up from five church groups in Lacombe, as well as a number of non-denominational people who simply all wanted to help the cause.
She said this is why the group is called the Lacombe Community Refugee Effort – it is a true cross-section of Lacombe’s community, simply coming together for a cause.
The Al Omar family arrived in Canada in May.
Since that time, the children have been enrolled in age-appropriate classes, the parents have studied English language courses and the patriarch Bashar has landed a full-time job.
The family is adjusting well, but had some concerns around how they would survive financially.
“After about three months, the family got extremely concerned with how they would ever make ends meet or manage without government funding. Our committee has a bank account that picked up where the government funding left off,” Ironside explained.
That fund has been used to assist with dental expenses, school and language courses, helping Bashar get his license and even helping the family get their first car. All of this benefit came through fundraising efforts by the committee.
The Lacombe Community Refugee Effort continues to work hard to help the Al Omar family adjust to their new life in Canada, and hopes to continue to seek support via donations of time and resources.
To get involved, email Ironside at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 403-350-1753, or contact Betty Cruickshank at email@example.com or 403-782-5357.