Anglican committee fundraising to bring Iraqi refugees to Sarnia-Lambton

Nessan Family from Iraq. (Photo provided by the Lambton Anglican Refugee Committee)

A family of 12 Iraqi refugees is looking to build a new life in Sarnia-Lambton, but fundraising is needed to get them here.

The Lambton Anglican Refugee Committee (LARC) is hoping to raise a total of $75,000 to help the Nessan family relocate from their current two-bedroom apartment in Jordan where they have lived since 2016 after being forced out of their home in Iraq in 2014.

Rev. Canon Vicars Hodge, the former rector of Trinity Anglican, said the Sarnia church is hosting a roast beef dinner fundraiser Thursday, which will hopefully bring the committee closer to its goal.

“The big picture is it takes $75,000 to bring them to Canada. We have $50,000 in the bank, so we are two-thirds of the way there. But frankly, we’ve been sort of stuck at that two-thirds place since the COVID outbreak,” said Rev. Hodge. “And so we’re trying to figure out a way to push this past because our family, the Nessan family, are just exasperated with waiting and waiting and waiting, so that’s what this roast beef dinner’s about.”

Rev. Hodge said the family is made up of a man and his wife, their five sons, two of their wives and three children.

He said the family of school teachers and educators is now out of options.

“There’s no path forward for them, other than coming to Canada or another safe country. They can’t go back to Iraq, there’s nothing there.”

Rev. Hodge said LARC has already brought three Syrian refugee families to Sarnia-Lambton over the past five years, and said this case is their biggest undertaking so far.

Hodge said following the rise of ISIS in the middle east, the group wanted to help one of the persecuted Christian families, so he reached out to a church he’s familiar with in Amman, Jordan.

“So I called and asked them if they knew of anybody who was in deep trouble and needed to be rescued, and they said ‘we can give you a list, how many families can you take?’ And so I said, I need one family, and I think they thought to themselves ‘we’ll give them our biggest family.'”

Rev. Hodge said there are three steps to bring a refugee to Canada: raise the money, make an application, then the government does its security checks. He said after that, it takes about three to six months for the family to arrive.

Hodge said the three refugee families they’ve helped bring to Canada are all success stories. The first is well settled in Sarnia, have bought a home and raised enough money to bring more of their family over in a matter of five years. The second, four people who settled in Petrolia, had a little tougher time adapting with limited English, but Hodge said they’re still paying their bills. He said the last family, who arrived in Sarnia within the last three years, has already bought and sold a home, bought another home and saved up $15,000 to hopefully bring more family members to Canada.

“Every refugee family’s story isn’t a success story, but we’ve had three good ones. And other churches in Sarnia who have done this have had success stories too.”

For more information on Thursday’s roast beef dinner, click here.