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Incoming Syrian refugee family has no place to stay on rental-starved Island

Ladysmith church raised $58,700 to sponsor the family, but no rental accommodation available
Oceanview Community Church has raised $58,700 to sponsor a Syrian refugee family. (Photo courtesy of Pastor Darin Phillips/Oceanview Community Church)

A Ladysmith church is having trouble finding a rental after fundraising to bring a refugee family to the community. The Syrian family is currently in Turkey and was introduced to Oceanview Community church through another refugee family living in Nanaimo.

Pastor Darin Phillips said he expects the family to arrive in early December. The church has arranged a place for them to quarantine for two weeks, but no place to live after.

The church has raised $58,700 to support the family for the first year in Canada as private refugees, Phillips said. “When we are doing this it doesn’t cost anyone anything except us.”

It took three years to accumulate the money through donations and fundraising events. The congregation received a significant gift from a couple in Victoria who are friends of the church, Phillips said. They gifted the congregation $10,000.

“That was just huge because I think it meant to this church, ‘Oh my word! God’s going to make this happen,’” Phillips said.

The congregation also held craft and bake sales and sold bagged soil to raise funds. Phillips said he was surprised by how much money each event made.

“It’s been like that kind of the whole way — constantly exceeding what I thought would happen,” he said.

Another large gift came from Saanich Baptist Church, which had funds leftover after doing its own refugee program.

“Certainly people were generous here out of their own pockets but there’s an undeniable miraculous aspect,” Phillips said.

He said the church will help the family get into English lessons as soon as possible and help them find work. Once they start working, they can keep the money as a seed for when the year is over and the church no longer supports them.

The church hopes to have a welcome party when the family arrives and finishes quarantine.



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