Students at St. Augustine Catholic School went over and above to raise money for a refugee couple being sponsored by the St. Augustine parish.
The school hosted its Goodwill Cup Thursday, Dec. 18 at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex with teachers playing against students and they raised $4,900 for the couple who landed in Ponoka Monday, Dec. 15. Usually they raise $500 to $700 for the Goodwill Cup.
Deacon Rollie Comeau said a plea was made by their archbishop to sponsor refugee families and the St. Augustine parish answered the call. He estimates they need $20,000 to $22,000 to ensure the couple has everything they need for a year.
He says Nan Khan and Ko Tun Tun will receive some English language lessons over the next few months, with help from St. Augustine students and the school division, who will provide training and technology needed to learn.
“We’re going to try to get them employed and try to get them help with English,” said Comeau.
“It’s total immersion, nobody speaks Burmese here,” he added.
He says Nan Khan had to walk through the forests of Myanmar before crossing over into Thailand where she found a refugee camp. There she met Ko Tun Tun and the two married.
It took three years for them to get refugee status.
Not only did the school raise money but also many families in the area donated furniture and supplies to help the couple as they move into their new apartment.
Comeau said they also raised about $4,400 at a turkey supper fundraiser and the federal government provided another $7,200.
The parish had to show they would be responsible for the couple for the first year while in Canada.
Helping organize the event was Darren Josephison, who said he was proud to see the school come together to help this couple. Each day the event came closer, more money was raised.
“The kids really bought into it,” said Josephison.
While the couple gets used to the cold Alberta climate, Comeau said he has been in touch with Myanmar families in Red Deer and Edmonton to help get the couple settled.