Can an ordinary Australian citizen possibly help get a refugee out of one of our northern off-shore detention camps to build a new life?
The answer is yes, there is a way, and Armidale people have adopted it in droves as they try to get one refugee off Nauru, and reunited with his family in Canada.
His wife and children are still in Myanmar, living unrecognised by that government, with no rights at all and in constant fear of cultural violence.
Funds being raised by Armidale's Nauru to Canada Appeal will sponsor the family, and Sanctuary's Jeff Siegel said they needed to raise A$52,000.
"The campaign was launched on Wednesday evening and at the moment we've raised about $40,000," he said.
It all centres around Canada's Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, which encourages permanent residents, members of organisations, associations and groups to engage in the resettlement of refugees.
Sponsors must be able to provide financial support for each refugee, typically for a year from the date of the sponsored person's arrival in Canada.
Armidale Rural Australian for Refugees, Armidale Santuary and Australian Diaspora Steps Up have partnered with MOSAIC, one of the largest resettlement organisations in Canada, and Toronto-based The Ripple Refugee Project which will sponsor and help refugees when they arrive.
Jeff said almost all of the donations so far are from Armidale people.
"Donations can be made to Armidale Sanctuary Humanitarian Settlement account and the reason donations are going there is that we are registered as a charitable organisation," he said.
"We're calling him Mohib because we can't use his real name. He was a Rohingya living in Myanmar, which means he was stateless and violently discriminated against.
"He was desperate to find a path to safety for his wife and children when he took a dangerous journey to Australia. He has been detained on Nauru for the last six years.
"He's been recognised as a refugee by the UNHCR and the Adds-Up organisation has selected him because of the good work he does among the other refugees."
The Canadian program began with Vietnamese refugees in 1979, when the government pledged to match sponsorship, one for one, for every refugee the Canadian public privately supported.
Suddenly, ordinary people across the country became involved, and it changed forever the way Canadians viewed their role in refugee resettlement.
If you wish to make a donation you can do so with an electronic transfer to: Armidale Sanctuary Humanitarian Settlement account BSB: 932000 Account Number: 654999 (add S3.2 if you are transferring from another Regional Australia Bank account) and put "Nauru to Canada Appeal" and your name as a reference."
Cheques may be made out to Sanctuary Humanitarian Settlement Inc and sent to: The Treasurer, Armidale Sanctuary, PO Box 1499, Armidale. For a receipt please email: email@example.com and give your name, the amount and date you transferred the donation.
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