A few short years ago, a group of 300 Karen refugees from Burma settled in a housing complex across the street from our Langley Club, arriving with little more than the clothes on their backs. 80 kids flooded into our already bustling Club, first simply discovering a safe place to play.
They, along with their families, quickly learned that it was also a place where they received extra support, including everything from hampers full of clothes, food and toys for their first Christmas, to tutoring and homework help to learn English and succeed in school. Over the longer term, it’s been a place to belong, where they found friends and healthy relationships, access to organized sports, and opportunities to lead. The Club helped them to settle well. It also helped them to avoid the dangers that child refugees face in a strange new country: failure at school, social isolation, being recruited into gangs, and exploitation. That’s what BGC is here for, and that’s the impact we have.
So, when I’m asked what BGC will be doing for Syrian refugees, the simple answer is this: when their parents have developed enough trust here to allow their kids to be out of their sight, our Clubs will be ready to welcome them. Further, our counselling programs will support them should they need help with trauma, stress or anxiety related to their experiences, and our WorkBC Delta employment program will support them to prepare for and find work.
All in all, BGC is ready, willing and able to receive any and all Syrian (or other) refugees as they make this their new home. Our policy that no one is turned away due to an inability to pay means that if you’d like to help us with the Syrian refugees, other new Canadian families, or any of the thousands of other amazing kids who belong at BGC, financial donations will make a huge difference!