For a family of refugees fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a new life in Campbell River is only a few months away.
Just over a year ago, Campbell Riverite Norbert Ntalintumire was busy trying to raise over $50,000 to bring his cousin and family to Campbell River from where they were living in a Ugandan refugee camp. Now thanks to the generosity of the community that figure is down to just over $2,000.
“We’re almost there!” said Ed Bohlmann, who is working with a group of people to bring the family to Canada.
Ntalintumire’s family have been living in the Nakivale refugee camp in southern Uganda for just over three years, having fled their hometown of Goma in the DRC.
“In Goma — which is on the border with Rwanda, there are lots of militia groups and rebels fighting there,” Ntalintumire said last year. “They come to your house and take young people to go fight for them. This happened to my cousin’s family.”
Bringing a refugee family to Canada is more involved than just paying for their airfare. The government of Canada actually puts the money up front for their tickets, and requires new arrivals to repay it over the course of seven years. However, Bohlmann, Ntalintumire and others have been working hard to ensure the family has furniture, a place to stay, clothes, food and more once they arrive in Canada.
“We are responsible for this family of seven for a full year, financing everything from housing utilities, food, schooling, Medical… you name it,” Bohlmann said. “We’ve recently have been able have been given a pristine set of furniture and household items are complete set of a complete condo that is going to be sold. And they donated everything.”
Ntalintumire is also working at purchasing a home for his family.
Though they are only a few thousand away from being able to pay for the trip, the family’s application still needs to be approved by the government. Mennonite Central Committee Canada helps to ensure the application is done correctly before it is submitted to the Canadian government.
“Of course, as you know with the Afghan refugees and the Ukrainian refugees and Sudanese refugees, (the government is) just swamped with applications,” Bohlmann said. However, he is hoping that in ten months the application is approved and the family can make their way to Canada.
To help raise the remaining funds, the group hosts a bottle drive every Saturday at the Sea Cadet parking lot off Ironwood Road. They are also hosting a Fun Trivia and Talent Night at the Christian Life Fellowship Church on Saturday, Nov. 26, from 7 until 10 p.m.