(the following was published in the Merrickville Phoenix, October 2021).
Rideau Bridge to Canada (RBC) is working to sponsor an Afghan refugee family to come to Canada and live in the Merrickville area. RBC has successfully sponsored two Syrian families and is building on that experience to help an endangered Afghan woman and her immediate family start a new life in Canada.
The tragic events of the recent months in Afghanistan have touched the hearts of many. One of the members of RBC executive has worked extensively in Afghanistan and has a personal stake in helping this particular Afghan woman who is a journalist. We are not revealing her name yet, because she is still in Kabul and afraid that the Taliban will come knocking on her door. Let’s call her Kata.
Kata worked for a Canadian-funded project, a radio station focussing on the empowerment of women and strengthening their role in Afghan life. She would bring with her two children aged 14 and 11, her unmarried sister who is 22, and her mother who is herself an active women’s rights activist and campaigner. They are now staying in a small, rented house in Kabul with a further nine members of their extended family. The core family of five is our main focus, but we are exploring the possibility of bringing more family members with the help of members of the former CARR sponsorship group in Perth. As you can imagine, the family is in a desperate situation. Journalists, particularly female journalists, are targets for Taliban reprisals. Given the support that Kata received from the Canadian government in getting her started in her career, we believe that helping her is vital: we feel that this is a moral imperative that we cannot ignore.
Until the Afghan crisis arose, RBC was winding down its activities with the sense of a task accomplished. With wonderful support from the community, two families–the Erhayels and the Al Abouds–have successfully escaped from the Syrian war and settled here. Firing up RBC again to raise money for another family will be a big ‘ask’, but the experience gained from the first families means that we feel that we have the organizational know-how to keep going.
For the second Syrian family, the Ceilidh Girls were tremendously helpful for fundraising. They have enthusiastically offered to help again.