These days, Mohammed Alsaleh has only one mission.
“We are trying to sponsor my Mom, two sisters and brother,” said Alsaleh. By “we” he means he and Deana Brynildasen, the New Westminster woman who read about Alsaleh in the New Westmisnter Record and felt compelled to reach out. When she finally met him in person, Brynildasen said his family was top of mind.
“He talked about finishing the course, get a job and save his money and then in six or seven years, he was going to sponsor his family and I thought why not now?” she said.
Alsaleh has been separated from his family for about two years. He fled Syria after he says he was detained and tortured by Syrian state forces. A year later, he’s settled in the Lower Mainland, where he now has a job and is going to school. He said he wants the same for his siblings.
“My family has suffered a lot through this whole crisis. During the last four years they had to lose family members. My siblings who are students have lost their schooling,” said Alsaleh.
GoFundMe campaign launched
Less than two weeks ago, the pair launched a GoFundMe campaign to come up with the $30,000 dollars needed for private sponsorship.
(You can donate here)
“I’d never even heard of GoFundMe. But you know we did a little bit of research because we wanted to do something before Christmas,” said Brynildasen
Over $9,000 has been donated so far.
According to the crowdfunding site, over $250,000 has been raised in Canada through GoFundMe for the Syrian refugee crisis. In the British Columbia, three campaigns have raised over $60,000 in less than 30 days.
“We’re so happy to be able to provide a platform that allows people to come together online to support loved ones when they need it most,” said Kelsea Little, Media Director at GoFundMe, via email.
More Syrian families in need of help
The Syrian Canadian Council of BC said there are many more in this province and across the country like Alsaleh, who are anxious to reunite with their families in Canada. However, their options are limited to private sponsorship unless they come from certain areas.
“Right now, it seems that the criteria is those refugees have to come from a specific refugee camps,” said Rahim Othman, the council’s spokesperson.
“We think that setting aside some of this number for family reunification is probably a good approach.”