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Syria Antigonish Families Embrace launches new fundraiser

A Syria Antigonish Families Embrace (SAFE) table was set-up for last month’s Antigonish Highland Games Street Fair. Answering questions for those visiting the table was Majd Al Zhori, whose family was able to escape their war-torn homeland of Syria, thanks to the efforts of SAFE.
A Syria Antigonish Families Embrace (SAFE) table was set-up for last month’s Antigonish Highland Games Street Fair. Answering questions for those visiting the table was Majd Al Zhori, whose family was able to escape their war-torn homeland of Syria, thanks to the efforts of SAFE. - Richard MacKenzie

ANTIGONISH, N.S. - SAFE (Syria Antigonish Families Embrace) has launched a new fundraiser with the goal to raise $60,000 before Sept. 30.

The sum would be sufficient to bring to safety in Antigonish two new refugee families; hopefully, extended family members of Syrian families already settled here.

Eight families from war-torn Syria now live in the Antigonish area, thanks to the combined efforts of three local sponsoring organizations. They come from Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and Dara; each family had lives from two to five years as refugees in Turkey, Lebanon or Jordon.

There are 19 adults; three students now registered in St. F.X.’s engineering and business programs, six students in high school, 13 students in grades Primary to eight, and eight pre-school children, one of whom was born at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital.

These new families already enrich Antigonish in many ways in the local work economy. Perhaps the best known is Peace by Chocolate, which is producing chocolate distributed locally and across Canada, creating some 20 local jobs.

Other new immigrants are working in jobs such as; repairing cell phones and electronics, maintaining apartments and school buildings, constructing and renovating buildings at St.F.X., pruning trees and vineyards, landscaping, welding and machining, auto detailing, at fast-food and locally owned restaurants, at the library, sewing and upholstering, catering and selling at the Antigonish Farmers’ Market.

On the local cultural scene, members of the new families have participated in theatre, poetry readings, art exhibitions and stone sculpting.  They have organized two well-attended Eid Festivals which mark the end of Ramadan. This adds new dimensions in making Antigonish well diversified in a multicultural Canada.

New Antigonishers have made our town better known via regional, national and international news as well as in electronic media and in key note speeches given across the country.

Much has been done but there is still much to do. The war in Syria continues for an eighth year. Statistically, 465,000 Syrians have been killed, more than a million injured and more than 12 million (half of the country’s pre-war population) displaced from their homes; many languishing in refugee camps. These are convincing reasons for SAFE to embark on this new fundraising campaign.

What can each of us do to help? You can donate to SAFE and then challenge a friend to make a similar donation. Donations can be made in full, or in three separate payments of $35 each, and any donation more than $20 will be receipted.

To make a donation; E-transfer to safamiliesembrace@gmail.com, donate through canadahelps.org/en/charities/syria-antigonish-families-embrace-safe-society or mail a cheque to SAFE, Suite 204, 219 Main Street, Antigonish, NS, B2G 2 C1. More information can be found on the SAFE Facebook page.

Zane de Noncourt - member of SAFE

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