They still may not have a hard number or timing of when Syrian refugees will come to the Queen City, but the Regina Open Door Society (RODS) believes it’s ready to help resettle the individuals whenever the time comes.
The organization said Thursday morning it doesn’t know how many refugees Regina will be receiving yet. Society executive director Darcy Dietrich said province-wide estimations have been tossed around of anywhere between 800 and 2,500. Typically, RODS will help resettle more than 200 refugees in a given year.
Now the organization will likely have to handle the same amount of people, maybe more, in a fraction of the time.
“This is what we do all the time and we have incredible partners that we’ve worked with for years. We do this day in and day out,” Dietrich said confidently. “This is what we exist to do. This is just a little bit different in terms of the numbers possibly being larger.”
He unveiled a specific plan that outlines the exact steps of what will happen when refugees first arrive at Regina International Airport, where they’ll go and what they’ll be given.
“Everything is detailed for them. They receive very specific orientation in terms of what to expect and here’s what will happen.”
RODS isn’t alone in its effort to help refugees either. Within a week, Dietrich said about 160 new volunteers came forward.
“The response from the community has been absolutely heartening, overwhelming. We’re just amazed by the number of people who are stepping up, who want to donate or volunteer or get involved somehow,” he explained.
People have been offering things like clothing, baby items, free yoga classes, even a car for transportation. The best way for interested individuals to find out what they can do to help and how is by going to the RODS website, where a special Syrian refugee page has been set up.
The organization is still searching for help. RODS needs people who can speak Arabic, Kurdish and Aramaic. Healthcare professionals are needed, whether it’s a physician welcoming new patients, dentists or optometrists. Mentors and tutors are being sought. As well, RODS is putting out a call for possible employers.
But perhaps the most important issue at this point is housing.
“We are looking for anyone who has a place to live that we can rent,” said Getachew Woldeyesus, RODS settlement, family and community services manager.
He shared Dietrich’s confidence the organization will be ready for the influx of refugees coming to the Queen City, whenever that may be.
“I’m of a strong belief as long we embrace our partners and work with them and then as long as we are open to engaging the public, I think this time we will be successful,” Woldeyesus said.