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‘Astonishing’ help for refugees

Anglicans and Catholics, who are both working to create a new life for Syrian refugees in Leaside, say they are astonished by the level of support from both parishioners and the community.

A total of 60 volunteers from St. Anselm’s Catholic Church and St. Augustine’s Anglican Church are helping to settle two Syrian Christian families into the community by providing food, clothing, housing and advice.

The newcomers, who can’t be named because of possible repercussions, are living in apartments with furniture, kitchen equipment and supplies largely donated by parishioners and friends.

Gina Davidson, one of the key organizers at St. Augustine’s, made sure their family was well clothed through New Circles, where Syrian refugees are offered free clothing for their first two years in Canada. 

The newcomers sponsored by St. Anselm’s Church do not yet speak English. The parish is fortunate to have several parishioners who speak Arabic.

The entire family is enrolled in ESL classes – the 12-year-old boy and nine-year-old daughter in the local public school and the parents and 19-year-old son at ESL classes within walking distance of their apartment on Lawrence Ave. East.

The Armenian Syrian family sponsored by St. Augustine’s Church and St. Matthew’s Riverdale Church, has just moved into their apartment  from temporary accommodation.

The mother’s English is good and her husband is keen to learn. Their four-year-old daughter has just started at the Armenian School.

St. Anselm’s took a chance that the refugees would arrive shortly after their approval so it had an apartment all ready to go with clothing collected prior to their arrival.