Thanks to dedicated support from the Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group and a generous donation from the 100 Women Who Care group in Penticton, a single mother from South Sudan and her seven children resettled in Summerland in late 2021.
With their country ravaged by war and violence, the displaced Ayuen family had been living in a hut at the United Nations’ Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya for the past 18 years. All but one of the Ayuen children were born in the camp and that is the only life they have known.
“I am happy to now be in Canada,” says the mother, Ajah. “I am happy all my children are safe and will be able to go to school. When I go to bed at night, I am happy. When I wake up in the morning, I am happy.”
The Ayuen children range in age from two to 20 years old. Amer, 20, and Angeth, 18, will attend Okanagan College starting in January while sister Yar, 16, will attend Summerland Secondary School. Their brother Mach, 13, is enrolled at Summerland Middle School and two younger siblings, Herjok, 9, and Abuk, 7, will go to Giant’s Head Elementary.
“We were happy when the United Nations said we were going to Canada because we knew Canada is the best place for school,” says Yar.
The family is supported by the Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group, a local registered charity that enables the resettlement of refugees from around the world. With help from its 85 volunteers, the group has previously assisted with the resettlement of refugees from Syria and Eritrea.
Under its agreement with the federal government, this Summerland group is responsible for helping the family get settled in the community and for supporting them financially for one year.