Barah Darawsheh and Abdullah Ghunaim and their three young children are in Jordan awaiting enough funds to bring them to Cowichan. (Submitted)

Sarah Simpson column: A wish for peaceful Christmas Chaos

I don’t have $20,000 but I do have this platform to reach out to you

There’s always some sort of Christmas chaos surrounding my family. And no, I’m not talking the massive craft fair that took over Duncan last weekend. I mean actual chaos. From the craziness of getting a spot on the ferry over to the Mainland to the excitement of Christmas morning, to having to play Trunk Tetris to try to pack the kids’ gifts from Grammy home, there’s always something. But one thing remains constant — although it’s not always easy, we do it together. Even though I’m a ferry away from the majority of my extended family, we are able to be together almost at will.

Barah Darawsheh and Abdullah Ghunaim and their three young children just want to share that kind of joy. They’ve fled the civil war in Syria and are currently in limbo in Jordan waiting for a private sponsorship group of five Cowichan Valley residents to raise the funds needed to bring them here to their family.

Relatives Nisreen Darawsheh and Mohamad Ghunaim — also Syrian refugees — have settled in the region and long to have their loved ones with them.

“There are many, many families needing stable refuge, and it can be difficult to fathom how we can help – but we can Start With One,” explained Christine Fagan, a member of the sponsorship group. “Hope is now only $20,000 away. Of the $36,000 needed, $16,000 has been raised by the sponsorship group in the form of private donations and a garage sale with the Duncan United Church community.”

I don’t have $20,000 but I do have this platform to reach out to you, and hopefully together we can help spread the word and raise that last bit of money so this family can reunite. If you don’t have the funds, I know it’s tight this time of year especially, maybe do you have some extra time to volunteer to fundraise?

Fagan calls it a double love story.

“Barah’s sister Nisreen is married to Abdullah’s brother Mohamad,” she explained.

I actually had to write it out to understand. (Sisters married brothers!)

“The sponsorship group and other volunteers are working toward reuniting these sisters, their husbands and children, so that they may all thrive together here in safety,” Fagan said.

The children haven’t seen two of their cousins in three years and have never met their youngest cousin.

“The cousins here in Duncan are saving their toys for the baby, and on a recent family fishing trip, they asked their parents if they can get fishing rods for their cousins and take them fishing as soon as they arrive,” Fagan said. “We all need family.”

We all need family.

I was careful to use the word “chaos” instead of “crisis” at the beginning of this column because my family chaos is nowhere near a crisis. We are not fleeing war. We are together. We are safe. Everyone wants that. The Darawsheh/Ghunaim family, well, they know what crisis really means. They’re idle in Jordan, unable to work or go to school and in constant fear for their safety. Wouldn’t it be great to see them look forward to enjoying the peaceful chaos that my family — many families here in the region and Canada in general — are blessed to afford. Can you help?

For more information on the sponsorship group, here’s a portal to the Go Fund Me page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/start-with-one-family—the-darawsheh-family. Donations can also be made directly to the Cowichan Intercultural Society; just let staff know it’s for the Darawsheh Fund and leave your email to get a charitable tax receipt.

If you’re interested in hearing the family’s story and helping in the efforts to bring them home to Cowichan, the next presentation is Dec. 1 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Coffee on the Moon (501 Canada Ave.). To RSVP or for more information please email: StartWithOneFamily@outlook.com

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