At the end of February, OSCRS (Ottawa South Committee for Refugee Support) completed its oneyear financial support and general assistance to Saliha and her three children. Readers of this column have seen our regular updates on the family. In a heartfelt note to the committee and the community at large, Sahila expressed her thanks for the friendship and resources they provided to her family. “I am very, very thankful for your various supports including financial, commuting to various appointments, finding a suitable apartment, and countless other support and advice you gave to us to successfully resettle in Ottawa.” As a result of the continued generosity of the community, OSCRS decided to financially support and provide other assistance to another Afghan family. This month, the OSCRS has taken on the sponsorship of an Afghan family of three: a single mom with a 12-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter.
The story of how this now single parent family from Afghanistan came to be in Ottawa is both eerily familiar and newly horrifying all at once. And the story is not over yet. The family is still in urgent need of help. Shortly after the Taliban’s most recent takeover of Afghanistan, the father of the family, a doctor who ran his own medical clinic, was murdered on the spot by Taliban soldiers when he refused to move his clinic. The family fled their home and moved around Afghanistan for months until they could get a flight out of the country. The first flight they could get was to the Netherlands. They stayed there for about three months. Next, they flew to Calgary where they stayed for a few months before moving east to Ottawa.
They have been in Ottawa for about six months. Although they are very happy to have landed in our beautiful city, the family needs and welcomes our support in navigating health, governmental and financial aid. They are living in a small one-bedroom apartment. They were sleeping in a bed infested by bed bugs, that had to be disposed of. Thanks to the generosity of a community donor, they have been provided with a new bed and bedding. The family also needed a technology update to assist the children with their studies – new laptops have been provided by OSCRS and an Equipass (bus pass), has been applied for on behalf of the mom. OSCRS is also working on helping the family to establish a support network and connect to social service programs.
Part of OSCRS mandate in working with families is to help them find and access providers of health and dental care including booking appointments and coordinating rides when needed. This is an area of pressing need for our newest family as the mom has a medical condition and the family does not have a family doctor.
OSCRS cannot function successfully without the generous support, financial and other, from the community. OSCRS primary fundraisers are Purdy’s Chocolate sales at Christmas and Easter. We are aiming to raise $3000 in sales to pay for much needed necessities for refugee families. Please consider ordering some delicious, Canadian made Easter chocolate to help us reach our fundraising goal. Here is the link: bit.ly/PurdysEaster2023 Order your treats now until March 14th. Pick-up will be in Old Ottawa South on Sunday, April 2nd.
OSCRS is also participating in the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend May 27-28! To sign up to support OSCRS go to www.runottawa.ca and under “Charity Challenge,” choose “2023 Charities” and under “Charity name” put in “Refugee.” OSCRS greatly appreciates the ongoing support of the community. If you would like to contribute as a volunteer, OSCRS can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To contribute financially, you may write a cheque to Trinity Anglican Church and mark it for refugee support. Cheques can be sent to 1230 Bank St., Ottawa, K1S 3Y3 to receive a tax receipt. OSCRS can also be found on Canada Helps at: www.canadahelps.org/en/ charities/trinity-anglican-church.
Cindy May is a resident of Old Ottawa South and a member of OSCRS.