Ponoka church fundraiser sheds light on plight of refugees

A fundraiser at St. Mary's Anglican Church in Ponoka aims to raise awareness of the plight of refugees.

Attendees of the fundraiser at St. Mary's Anglican Church May 6 enjoyed some appetizers followed by a wonderful ham supper and desserts while hearing more about how the money raised will assist relief efforts in refugee camps in Africa.

Sometimes hope for a brighter future begins with a simple donation.

That was the idea behind a fundraiser held May 6 at St. Mary’s Anglican Church in Ponoka, which was organized by Jeff Hanger.

The proceeds of the evening went to The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), a Canadian Anglican response agency that became separate from the Anglican Church 17 years ago. The fund was originally established by the Anglican Church of Canada in 1958.

“The money raised will be used by the PWRDF to help support local agencies it partners within camps in Africa,” Hanger said.

“The PWRDF has four main programs refugees, development, justice and emergency relief, which is what this event is all about.”

For a donation, those who attended received a ham supper complete with appetizers and dessert as well as listening to a presentation on the efforts the agency is putting forth with emergency aid, how refugees are treated and why assisting them is so important. The donations were also supplemented by money raised through a number of silent auction items that were donated.

Hanger said that there are currently about 12 million people in Africa, most of whom are refugees, that are going without adequate food or water.

“Worldwide, there are about 63 million people that have been uprooted and there are a lot of reasons for the refugee crisis the world now faces 28 million of those are children,” he stated.

“War is by far the biggest reason and 86 per cent of those refugees don’t wind up in developing countries. They are being housed in camps in the least developed countries.”

Even though immigration has been high on the agenda of news organizations in Europe and North America, Hanger explained that the issue isn’t as simple as it is being made out to be.

“There is legal and illegal immigration, but that issue is different than what is happening with the refugees, more than 70,000 of whom have been born without a country to call their own,” he said, noting many of the refugees in the camps want to go home.

“That is why the donations to the PWRDF will help so much by assisting those in the camps with independence by creating jobs and schools and providing what the people need.”