The eight-member family of Algoni Moussa and his wife, Antoinette Raymonde Nzengou, and their six children will arrive in Salmon Arm on Aug. 1, the flight from their home in the Central African Republic a matter of life or death. (Photo contributed)

Flight for life lands in Salmon Arm

Help needed to set up home for refugee family of eight

By Barb Brouwer

Salmon Arm Observer

The community has done it before and the Shuswap Five (Plus One) is hoping residents will step up again.

Many Salmon Arm groups and individuals surged forward with help of all kinds when preparations were being made for the first Syrian refugees to arrive in 2016.

Related: Preparing for refugees

Another refugee family is now looking forward to the security and freedom of living in Salmon Arm – very soon.

Dr. Richard Currie and four others formed a group called Shuswap Five in order to be able to sponsor Algoni Moussa and his family, who fled their home country due to religious persecution and violence.

Moussa and Currie met when they were working together in a mission with Médecins sans frontières (MSF) in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2009-2010. Currie and Moussa, a nurse/midwife who later became the head of obstetrics in the hospital, became friends and kept in touch intermittently throughout the year.

Conditions in the country were relatively stable when Currie was there, but civil war erupted after his departure.

“Essentially, the family was the wrong religion in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he says, noting Muslims had attacked Christians in other parts of the country and, in the ensuing backlash against Muslims, Moussa’s younger brother was killed and the family home destroyed.

Moussa and his nine children were all born in CAR, a small country colonized by France, with a population of about 4.5 million and French as the official language. Except for one of the children who lives in France due to health issues, life in Bangui, the capital, was all the family knew.

But because of the threat to their lives, MSF evacuated the family on a humanitarian flight to neighbouring Cameroon on Jan. 2, 2014.

“It should be noted that we do not know Cameroon, it’s just a matter of life or death, we must leave the Central African Republic – if not it is death,” says Moussa in the letter to one of the members of the sponsoring group which is translated from French. “It’s a community conflict, people kill everywhere.”

Shortly after their arrival, Moussa and his family registered at the United Nations Refugee Centre to further improve their safety.

Moussa then accepted a job with MSF in Chad but his family had to remain in a Cameroon refugee camp.

Determined to seek a better, safer life for his family, Moussa wrote to Currie to share the family’s plight and tell him of his intention to emigrate to Canada.

Related: Welcoming more refugees

Currie investigated the possibility of sponsoring the family and discovered doing so would require a commitment of five people living in the same community. He then discussed the possibility with Daniela Widmer, who had also been Moussa’s supervisor in an MSF mission in the Central African Republic.

Thus was born the Shuswap Five (Plus one). Daniela Widmer, Damien McCombs, Nadia Widmer, Callum Reid and Currie are the five members of the group who committed to the Canadian government’s requirements and signed the necessary documents. The sixth member is Currie’s wife, Alyson Stone, who is taking care of many of the details – including securing a number of necessities for the family.

And time is of the essence.

A year ago, the group was advised it could be four years before the family would arrive. However, a July 3 letter from the Canadian government advised the family will be arriving in Salmon Arm on Aug. 1.

Of chief concern is finding suitable accommodation for the large family. A home with at least three bedrooms is required.

As well as furniture and assorted household/kitchen items, the family will need clothing. The children range in age from a young woman, 23, a boy, 18, a boy, 16, two girls aged 13 and seven and a three-year-old boy.

Anyone who can help may call Alyson at 1-647-835-4436, or send an email to stonealysoni@gmail.com.


@SalmonArm
barbbrouwer@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Salmon Arm artists spread paint at home and abroad

Rebecca Shepherd and Roxi Hermsen apply experience to local mural painting business

Cherries ripening for the picking in Salmon Arm

U-pick owner says it’s not all doom and gloom as it might be for some Okanagan growers

Public asked to help monitor CP Rail coal trains passing through Shuswap

Residents are asked to contact rail company if they see trains emitting coal dust

Highway 1 reopens following vehicle fire west of Chase

The Highway has reopend to single-lane alternating traffic, delays are expected due to congestion.

Letter: Better ways for Downtown Salmon Arm businesses to address poverty

Prohibiting sitting or lying down both measures designed to make poverty invisible and criminal

VIDEO: Okanagan Valley weekday weather update

Environment Canada says it’s going to be a rainy week

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Our history in picture: What’s under construction?

Is this the Royal Bank under construction? The decade is the 1970s.… Continue reading

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

B.C. couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran of Abbotsford spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

UPDATE: special council meeting set for Wednesday, Basran in talks with province

Opponents of McCurdy house says she won’t ‘relinquish possession’ of more than 14,000 names

Private viewing for Elijah-lain Beauregard to be held in Penticton

Afterwards, there will be a celebration of life next to the Okanagan Lake,

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Most Read