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Congolese refugee fundraising goal reached

Campbell River group raised over $54,000 to bring family of seven to community
This is the artwork of 20 year old Ezekiel, who is the oldest son of Shashi’s cousin & wife. He has captured a picture of life in a refugee camp as an aspiring artist. What this picture doesn’t tell you is that food from the NGO each month only lasts half the month, with no opportunity for work - they can only hope to find something to trade or sell to buy additional food. There is no school for the children in the refugee camp. This family had to escape for their safety from Congo to a Uganda refugee camp over a year ago. Photo supplied by Campbell River Christian Life Fellowship Church

Thanks to a years-long effort, enough money has been raised to bring a family of Congolese refugees to Campbell River.

“I always say to our team members that raising the funds was a piece of cake,” said Ed Bohlmann from the Christian Life Fellowship Sponsorship Team. “The difficult thing will be to help integrate the family into this community.”

The family of seven is currently at the Nakivale refugee camp in Southern Uganda, where they fled to due to violence in their home town of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Their roughly three year ordeal is coming to an end, however as the group has now raised the $54,000 required to fund their lives in Canada for one year.

“We actually exceeded it by $4,000,” said Bohlmann. “It will be needed for them, since food and rental costs have increased significantly since our 2021 budget.”

Funds were raised through private donations, garage sales and bottle drives.

The application is now in the hands of the federal government, and Bohlmann expects to be welcoming the family to Campbell River sometime this year. That’s when the real work starts.

“We’ll take turns in the off-hours answering phone calls,” he said. “I’m sure there will be ‘I don’t know how to turn the lights off,’ or ‘I don’t know how to heat the milk in the microwave oven.’

“Although we’re 14 people. We’re going to be really busy.”

The DRC is a former French colony, so most of the family members speak French and Swahili, but only one of the seven family members speaks English.

To teach them how to operate a microwave oven, to go shopping. to learn how to drive a car, to learn job skills to learn how to behave in traffic… it goes on and on and on,” Bohlmann said. “But we’re ready for them and look forward to making a difference in their lives.”

Though they have met their goal, the group is still raising funds through their bottle drive at the Sea Cadet facility. Aside from funds for this family, the team is also working to help support a student from Tanzania. Bottles can be dropped off on Saturdays between 10 and 12.

“We are so thankful to all of you in our community as well as outside for your wonderful generosity,” Bohlmann said.

Local man raising money to bring refugee family to Campbell River

RELATED: Only about $2,000 left to bring refugee family to Campbell River

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