Refugees

A nine-member committee from Penticton is hoping to sponsor this refugee family from South Sudan. Surrounding mother Nyalah is, from top left, Hadia, Nyajal (Nyalah's sister) and baby Sara. Husband Luke is not pictured.

Sara Goddard has been asked this question many times.

“Aren’t you worried about issues and problems here in Canada?”

She said it, we didn’t.

“I’m well aware of the issues here in Canada. We’re dealing with COVID and wildfires. I’m an Outreach nurse, advocating for marginalized populations every day,” Goddard said in an interview.

“But, Canada has a lot of resources available that people overseas don’t, especially refugees. If we’re able to extend our arms to welcome more people, we’re able to do our part to help the rest of the world.”

Goddard is one of nine people who created “Dthora Madong Penticton,” which when translated to English means: “A Forever Place.”

In partnership with the Diocese of Kootenay Anglican Church of Canada, the goal is to sponsor a refugee family from South Sudan.

Goddard met “Luke” and “Nyalah” when she was working with Doctors Without Borders in South Sudan.

“Their story touched my heart,” she said.

The couple has two young children as well as Nyalah’s nine-year-old sister living with them.

Their long and detailed story includes a generational blood feud, imprisonment, poverty, border crossings and being sold into human trafficking.

The family is currently living in Cairo, Egypt, where life still has many dangers for South Sudanese refugees. They live with the constant threat of gang violence, black market organ trade, sex trafficking and slavery.

They are registered with the UNHCR but resettlement is slow and often does not assure them a safe home. Without community sponsorship, their lives may stay in limbo for decades.

While the recent refugee crisis in Syria has drawn global headlines, many are unaware that South Sudan accounts for 9% of people displaced from their homes, according to the most recent UN Refugee Agency report.

“I hope to increase awareness of the refugee crisis in our world,” Goddard said. “I’d like to reinforce the value of helping one person in a world where some issues feel overwhelming. We may not fix the world, but we can make life better for this family… and that is huge.”

If all goes well, the family could be relocated to Penticton within one year. The global pandemic has presented its share of challenges, including closed borders. The process of refugee relocation moves painfully slow.

Goddard said the support thus far from the community has been solid and she is grateful to Rev. Nick Pang from St. Saviour’s Anglican Church for his involvement.

The committee has reached two-thirds of its $45,000 goal. Funds raised will be used for the family’s travel, food, medical needs and housing in their first year.

Anyone wishing to help may contact: sarahdawngoddard@gmail.com

Cheques can be made payable to St. Saviour’s Church (Refugee Account on the memo line) and mailed to: 150 Orchard Ave., Penticton, V2A 1X8.

A GoFundMe page is also available at: gofund.me/0a27e32a