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Sweet treats sweeten the pot for Afghani woman’s pending arrival

Community support for fundraiser heartwarming for sponsorship group

The small group of residents bringing an Afghani woman to Chemainus is making big progress.

An Afghani Afternoon fundraiser Nov. 5 at the Chemainus United Church to pay for the woman’s airfare was very successful, according to the group’s leader Jim Tallman.

“First of all, we got all the funds we need to pay for her airfare,” he said. “We’re grateful for all the people that came.”

Related story: Private sponsorship group bringing Afghani woman to Chemainus

The event featured readings from Afghani author Nadia Hashimi’s novel ‘A House Without Windows’ and from journalist Carol Off’s book ‘All We Leave Behind. Tea and sweets were served afterwards.

“Those who attended appreciated what they learned about life in Afghanistan from the readings and many commented they would like to read the books for themselves to learn more,” noted Rev. Elise Feltrin of the Chemainus United Church, who’s also a member of the private sponsorship group for ‘Friba’ to leave behind the oppression of the Taliban in her home country. She’s not currently in Afghanistan and could not go back for fear of reprisals due to her well-known advocacy for women’s rights.

“The excerpts were eye-opening, descriptive and informative covering diverse views and including images of what life was like before Taliban rule making us all realize we share many things in common with the Afghani people; the enjoyment of music and laughter, savouring hospitality with friends and family and wanting the best opportunities for our children as they grow up.”

Feltrin added it was also a great opportunity for members of the sponsorship group to get to know each other better working together as a team on hosting the event.

“Nothing like rolling up your sleeves to wash china teacups and saucers together as a way of deepening connection,” she reasoned. “Everyone pitched in cheerfully doing their part to make things run seamlessly.”

“I would just add that the community support was tremendous – from local merchant donations in the form of pastries and other treats for the tea and items put into the silent auction to the people who bought tickets, made donations and who came to the event,” Tallman indicated.

Friba will be settling in Chemainus as soon as her file is approved. The group is hoping that could happen within the month.

“In addition to raising the funds that will more than adequately cover the cost of Friba’s airfare – any excess will go towards her living expenses during the first year – we raised a lot of interest in this young woman, and her imminent arrival in Chemainus,” noted Feltrin. “I feel there will be a very positive reception when she finally arrives and people will welcome her and be supportive. We hope there will be future opportunities for her to share her story personally with those in our community.”

The $20,000 requirement to support Friba’s first year here and kickstart the necessary paperwork was previously raised. The group felt it important to cover the additional airfare portion refugees normally have to pay back to the federal government and remove that burden from her shoulders.

Don Bodger

About the Author: Don Bodger

I've been a part of the newspaper industry since 1980 when I began on a part-time basis covering sports for the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle.
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