Refugee Sponsorship Diaries

August 31, 2020 at 10:55 am (Entries that matter)

I wrote last entry about the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative, which is all about having a small group of people look after all the needs of a refugee or refugee family for their first 12 months in Australia (everything from English lessons to introducing Vegemite to helping them look for work and settle their kids into school).

This is so very much what I want to do, and it doesn’t hurt that I speak (extremely rusty) Indonesian.

The CRSI has a kind of pilot program (they call it ‘mentoring’ to distinguish it from full-on ‘sponsorship’) beginning this October, which runs for just 6 months, costs much less, and assists refugees who are either already in Australia or already approved to come here (so they’re probably skilled migrants).

I am deliriously excited about all of this, and I’m a massive over-sharer, so (within ethical boundaries) I’ve decided to blog about the experience.

I am a disabled and mentally ill bisexual Christian woman with two kids, two cats, and one husband. I’m an author of fantasy novels and interactive novels. For 12 years I prepared to be an aid worker (specifically a teacher) in Indonesia, visiting various provinces a total of seven times.

So far I’ve gathered a group of seven core sponsorship individuals. We’ll all be trained (via CRSI) and we’ve all submitted current police checks and Working With Vulnerable People cards. I compiled and submitted a form with all our personal details plus relevant skills. The group includes Chris and I, my mum (who’s acting as treasurer), two of my mum’s friends from her church, one friend from my church, and a man that none of us have met before who is studying refugee resettlement. We’re all facebook friends now, and there’s also a wider group that is following along with the mentorship via a facebook group (including many people that do want to meet and help the refugees but don’t want to be part of the official core group).

COVID of course will limit what we can do, and my own chronic illness (including being immunocompromised) is always limiting. I am way more functional if I’m in my (temperature-controlled) house, so I’m hoping we will be able to settle the refugees very close by, so they can easily come over (and hopefully go to the same school as our kids). We’ve been given a car (!) so we’ll teach them to drive if they can’t already.

I’ve raised about $5000 in Phase 1 of my fundraising plans, which fundamentally involved asking almost everyone I know for $100. (Phase 2 is a facebook fundraiser, Phase 3 is a GoFundMe, and Phase 4 is a Gift Shop made up of donated items for people to buy.) That is way more than we need for the mentor phase, but for the full program we need to have a bit over $42,000 in a trust before we can get started. That’s… a lot. Most of the core group is teachers, retirees, and… me. None of us earn much, so my mind will be full of fundraising for a long time to come. The up side is that, if the trust doesn’t get used up by one family it can be rolled over to the next refugee family. It’s still a lot, though—and that’s not counting things like setting up house and paying for airfares to Australia. (Setting up house is something that will be enormously fun and will cost very little as three of us are connected to Buy Nothing groups that are absolutely fantastic for toys, clothes, and furniture.)

CRSI will be in contact by 10 September, and I don’t know if that will be to set up our training or to tell us a little about the person/family we’re matched to, or both. I’m of course terrified that we won’t be matched to anyone and will have to cool our heels for months to come. But I think, rationally speaking, that we’re sure to be matched with someone… and I can’t wait to find out a little bit about them.

This is something I want to do for the rest of my life.

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