The wait is finally over.
Nearly two years after district residents raised more than $60,000 in support of the “Families for Families” initiative to bring a refugee family to Fort Frances, they are due to arrive in town this Friday.
In fact, the response was so overwhelming—well above the initial goal of $35,000—that the committee not only could bring in a family of six (instead of five as originally planned) but allowed for a second family to come here, as well.
There certainly were plenty of ups and downs over the past 24 months as the first family's expected arrival date kept getting pushed back due to various delays. Through it all, though, the committee persevered and now all of its hard work and effort is about to bear fruit.
Hopefully, the wait won't be as long for the second family, who are related to the first one, to make their way here.
Although mid-November, with winter already having made an early appearance this year, may not be an ideal time for a refugee family from Iraq to arrive in Fort Frances, we trust Bashar, his wife, their teenaged daughter, and three sons will be warmly welcomed by residents right across the district.
The family won't be greeted with a huge welcome party upon their arrival. As Kathy Mueller, who has spearheaded “Families for Families” since Day 1, pointed out in last week's Times, refugees understandably can be a bit shy at first, especially given the language and cultural barriers.
Rather, her advice if people see the family out and about is to just say “hello" or "welcome,” also noting they are not used to handshakes and hugs like we are.
Our district has welcomed refugee families from elsewhere around the world in the past, and no doubt everyone is eager to do so again in the days, weeks, and months ahead as our latest newcomers settle in.
It's great to be able to extend a hearty welcome to the family at long last, as well as sincerest best wishes as they become part of our community's fabric.