Mono’s First Line for Syria inspires youth group

February 4, 2016   ·   0 Comments

The First Line for Syria Youth Support Group formed by area youth emerged from a mid-December meeting held at Trinity United Church in Shelburne.

Sabine Rohner-Tensee told the young people at their inaugural meeting in late January, “The real beauty is you are offering your time and energy.  The biggest thing you can give these new Canadian children is your friendship.”

Inspired by the efforts of the refugee sponsorship group “First Line for Syria,” the young people came together in a meeting led by two sisters, Ciara and Billie Davis, aged 21 and 19. The girls live in Mono near where First Line for Syria was initially formed in 2015 by three families determined to raise the $30,000 needed to support a Syrian family for a year.

With the assistance of First Line for Syria representatives Sabine Rohner-Tensee and Adelle Barr Klouman, the young group, following in their footsteps, began to develop plans to fund raise and help welcome new Canadian families to the area.

The youth group is off to a good start with nine members ranging in age from 8 to 21, “all eager to be involved both globally and locally,” said Ms. Barr Klouman. At their first meeting, the youth shared ideas on how to help and mentor the refugee children – a girl 17, and two boys aged six and nine, as well as organizing small fundraisers, possibly in schools or with recreational groups in which the youth are involved.

Outside of the new commitment by the youth, more news from First Line for Syria refugee sponsors includes the group being assigned not one, but two unrelated families – a family of three and a family of four. “We are super happy about this,” says the group, “It is very unusual if not unheard of.”

Housing has already been secured in Shelburne for one family and the group continues to look for a home for the second family.

A drive to gather donations for household goods, bedding, and clothing was held by a supportive group in Erin earlier in January. Wally Barr called the event “a roaring success with cars lined up.” He says duplicate donations will be stored for a refugee sponsorship group in the Halton area.  First Line for Syria will be looking at more fund raising initiatives in the near future.

Mr. Barr says the support of Primrose United Church, especially secretary Sharon Holmes, continues to be invaluable. “The United Church of Canada continues to work as the Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) and the government of Canada has, thankfully, ramped up its efforts to facilitate refugee sponsorship.”

He added that Dufferin County Community Services “has been exceptionally helpful as well as organized. We can’t say enough good things about them.”

To get involved with the Youth group contact First Line for Syria on Facebook.

By Marni Walsh

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