The focus for my mentor and I over these past few weeks was about the refugees that i would be looking to assist. We spoke about the technicalities of the ‘refugee status’, the things refugees have gone through to get to the place they are now, what they have, what they want, and how to incorporate all of these things into a potential sponsorship.
As we discussed, there are many complex needs that must be considered so that an offer of a sponsorship would be of actual value and relevance to the individuals I am hoping to assist through this project. I have to be aware of their values and needs, not the ones that I may perceive for them to have. I have been attempting to connect the needs of the refugees to the services that I would potentially be able to provide for them.
First, we talked about the definition and process of becoming a ‘refugee’.
There are two types of overseas refugees; government sponsored and privately sponsored. These people have been UNMCR identified as persecuted and unable to return to their country of origin.
Countries such as Canada select from this pool of identified people. In the past, this has been a controversial step. Many countries, including Canada, were picking individuals who seemed most likely to succeed in the society of the country, or, ‘cream of the crop’ as my mentor put it. After objection from the public and elites, these strategies have been adjusted and many countries now focus on providing assistance for the most vulnerable people.
Once being selected and brought to Canada, Government Sponsored refugees are then provided with one year of government funding, and are passed on to companies such as the issofbc for resettlement. This funding is generally very limited and frequently just, or not, enough to get by with rent and food.
Once being selected and brought to Canada, Privately sponsored refugees are supported and integrated by the private sponsors. The resettlement is taken care of by the sponsors, as well as necessities such as rent and food.
This supported time allows refugees to adapt and use their time for job searches, child care, and the like without the pressure of fully providing for themselves and their families.
Another classification of refugee is called ‘inbound’. These are people whom have arrived at the border to make a refugee claim to determine whether they may stay. This assessment can be a very long process, and inbound refugees receive very little support.
Through our conversations over these past weeks, my mentor and I have have collectively been using strategies represented in ‘How to Have a Beautiful Mind’. When determining the potential accessibility of a private english school sponsorship in the downtown Vancouver area, my mentor has been probing, and I have been asking, many ‘what if’ questions. Such as, what if the refugees do not have any literary skills? The school I am looking at for a sponsorship does not have programs for such cases. What if the refugees have large families and many children, leaving them essentially unable to go away for a portion of the day to study? These and many other questions have been involved in our discussions.
These conversations have drawn interest from me that does not necessarily have direct relevance or application to my In Depth project. For example, my mentor and I discussed how there is a tendency for refugees, particularly those from Syria, are arriving with very large families compared to the average western family. This has peaked my interest for a potential future study into traditional and modern family sized from around the world, and the potential reasons for these numbers.
These past weeks have been very productive, and I can’t wait for another two equally constructive weeks ahead!