Group preparing for arrival of second Syrian refugee family

For the last few nights, Nina Hirlaender has lied in bed, giddy with excitement.

For the last few nights, Nina Hirlaender has lied in bed, giddy with excitement.

In two weeks, a Syrian refugee family that Hirlaender and the Victoria Refugee Initiative have sponsored to come to Victoria, will take their first steps in Canada.

For the past few months, the group of roughly six core people have fundraised more then $30,000 to privately sponsor the family of five, with the help of the Anglican Diocese.

The family, which includes the mother, father, a 13-year-old daughter, and two sons, 11 and five, were living in Syria when they were forced to flee the war-torn country. They have been living in a refugee camp in Jordan for the past two years.

Aside from that, the group doesn’t know much more about the family.

“The first time we’re going to get to know their names is when we see them at the airport,” said Hirlaender, a Fernwood resident. “It’s like a big surprise. We have no idea who they’re going to be, what their personalities are, what their needs will be, but we’re really excited.”

The group found out late last week that the family will be arriving in two weeks, though they don’t know the exact date. Since then, they’ve been organizing a number of things they will need upon arrival, including trauma or mental health services, and in-kind donations such as clothing, kitchen gear, and furniture.

They are also searching for a three-bedroom home that can be donated or for reduced rent in the Victoria area.

“We’re thrilled. It feels like they’re our family too. We already have that connection with them because we’re looking out for everything from their mental health to the shoes they’re going to wear,” Hirlaender said, adding they’re also going to help the parents find jobs.

“I can’t stop thinking about it at night. It’s so exciting.”

This is the second Syrian refugee family to come to Victoria, following the Trudeau government’s plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of February.

British Columbians have applied to privately sponsor roughly 220 refugees, 10 of which are expected to resettle in Victoria.

For more information or for a list of items that still need to be donated visit victoriarefugeeinitiative.weebly.com or email victoriarefugeeinitiative@gmail.com.