As the war broke out in Ukraine and the world started opening up to those fleeing from the war-torn country to safe havens, Village of Burns Lake councillor Charlie Rensby took it upon himself to help families come to Burns Lake.
He first asked for help from his fellow-councillors during an April 19 council meeting. Since then, he has been able to identify a couple of families, one of which is set to come to Burns Lake.
Aws Abduljaleel, a mechanical engineer with over 12-years experience as a welding inspector on an oilfield, will soon be coming to the village, along with his family. His wife, Ganna Lutsenko, a family doctor with more than 15-years experience, and their 10-year-old son Iusef Abduljaleel will be accompanying Abduljaleel.
“This is important to me for a few reasons. I care about people and their well being, and it’s a sense of duty that I feel as a Canadian to do our part,” said Rensby. “Many people in the community are here because their previous generations left war torn lands for a better life. It’s important to remember that some of our histories are not so different from the Ukrainians’ present.”
Abduljaleel’s family’s suffering began back in 2014 when the Russian army attacked and helped a group to occupy the city of Lugansk, where the family lived and had their own house.
“From that time, we lived in different places in Ukraine as a refuge and you can’t imagine how difficult it feels that you don’t have a home and, at any point in time, you might become completely homeless,” said Abduljaleel.
“In the early morning hours of Feb. 24, Ukrainian people woke up to the sound of Russian rockets which they used to attack our homeland; my family couldn’t leave Ukraine for the first time due to the curfew, but in the end on March 3, they were successfully evacuated to Poland.”
The family now hopes to start a new life in Canada. At present, Rensby is working with the family to get the last of the paperwork done so that they can travel to Burns Lake soon.
Rensby will be setting up a donation account at the credit union on Monday, May 9. He is also looking for leads on a two-bedroom apartment or a basement suite for the family to stay in, and will also need help furnishing it.
“First step is to get them here, then we will set them up for the first while, to let them adjust. Any help the community can give with donations, discounted rent, etc. will be appreciated,” he said.