Refugees to arrive in Fernie this month

A family in Fernie will be opening up their home to refugees from Africa this summer.

  • Aug. 7, 2013 7:00 p.m.

Gebrezghi and Selam Berhane will arive in Fernie this month.

A family in Fernie will be opening up their home to refugees from Africa this summer.

Gebrezghi and Selam Berhane, a brother and sister from Eritrea, a small country in North East Africa, will be arriving at the end of the month, thanks to the hard work of Brittany Loberg, who organized the sponsor.

Loberg had heard about the work of the East Kootenay Friends of Burma group that sponsors refugees from African and Asia. She decided she wanted to try to help people fleeing persecution from their home countries too.

“I had stumbled across the East Kootenay Friends of Burma website and thought it was a really neat opportunity to help out a refugee,” she said.

“Refugees are the most vulnerable people in society. They have been forced to leave their countries and most end up living their lives in refugee camps.

“So I started Fernie Friends of Refugees and so far people have been really supportive of it.”

Loberg said that she needed people to volunteer to help the pair integrate into Canadian society, by taking them grocery shopping or out hiking.

“The guy who is in he 30s speaks good English,” she said. “The girl’s English is limited so she will be working on that.”

The group will take financial responsibility of them for a year, then they will be looking for employment in the community.

“We are just trying to get people on board with the idea,” she said. “It will be a steep learning curve for us but we are getting the ball rolling and hopefully these two will just be the first.”

Loberg has also applied to sponsor a single mother from Liberia and her nine children to come to Fernie in a couple of years.

The group is planning to start fundraising to pay for their rental accommodation soon.

Anyone interested in volunteering to help Loberg should call her at 250-421-0649.

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