LERC

LONDON ECUMENICAL REFUGEE COMMITTEE (LERC)
Report Update -  October 2018

The second sponsorship of the London Ecumenical Refugee Committee (LERC) has undergone some major challenges and changes.  Our Ethiopian family arrived in late June and by beginning of September all five members of the family had moved to Calgary. The family consisted of a grandmother, her daughter and son-in-law and two grandchildren. Grandmother joined friends and former neighbours in Calgary in mid-July and her daughter’s family joined her there the end of August.


This was a very stressful time for LERC. However, even with the wonderful support from the London Ethiopian community, we were unable to convince the family to stay in London where we could connect them to all the supports they needed and were required by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

The type of sponsorship that LERC undertakes is focused exclusively on helping a family settle here in London.  The Ethiopian family’s move to Calgary changed all that for LERC. Rob Shropshire oversees all PCC (Presbyterian Church of Canada) sponsorships and he explained that this family has undertaken on their own what is called a ‘secondary migration’.  That makes the family Rob’s responsibility because they moved out of LERC’s area of responsibility. Rob is trying to connect the family to a community sponsor like LERC in Calgary. Failing that, *the family will then be considered a no-fault sponsorship breakdown.

Keep in mind, that LERC had fully furnished the apartment and the family had signed a one-year lease on it. *In their moving from or ‘abandoning’ the apartment, LERC was once again involved with furniture. The landlord (Capreit) was most understanding in this situation. We had the last month’s rent applied to the month of September, to allow us the time to empty the apartment. We found new homes for the furniture within the greater Karen and Ethiopian communities.
LERC members responded magnificently to these challenges. We often commented on why the members of seven congregations in five denominations took on refugee sponsorship. This led us to examine our faith’s demands on us with respect to welcoming the stranger. We pray for God’s guidance at each meeting and frequently thank God for supports and interventions that just can’t be explained as coincidence. We have known all along that we are not alone and our God loves and watches over all of us in this complicated and challenging situation. It is the writer’s opinion that our faith kept us from collapsing under the surprises that rained down on us.

  • We will have a break after we settle all London matters surrounding the Ethiopian sponsorship. We hope to maintain our contacts in the London Ethiopian community by sharing a meal together at various Ethiopian restaurants in London from time to time. After we are well rested, we will start the process for our third sponsorship which will involve bringing a Karen family to London to reunite with relatives here.
  • And finally, an update about our first family that LERC sponsored two and a half years ago. They welcomed their fifth son, and sixth child on October 3, 2018. This boy has more than just the honour of being born in Canada, he is also sporting Western sounding names. Keep in mind that none of the Karen family members have the same last or common name. He will still be challenged with our weird ‘first name, middle name, last name’ expectations, and that will certainly tie him to his siblings and his cultural identity.
  • We are still selling Rheo Thompson Chocolate Mint Smoothie bars as a continuing fundraiser; as well as collecting scrap metal and deceased electronics and batteries through Zubicks on Clarke Road. Once we have recharged our committee member batteries, we will most certainly inform our various congregations of any new activities to participate in.
  • Please continue to pray for our work and support of the new-comer or refugee families – those here now, and those who will come.

    Respectfully submitted,
    John Stewart, Co-convenor of LERC
    and
    Karen Chiasson, Recording Secretary of LERC
        

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