Good Shepherd, Stony Plain, Alta., Mount Zion, Edmonton, Our Savior, Edmonton, St. John, Golden Spike, and St. Matthew’s, Spruce Grove, Alta., have banded together to sponsor a refugee family from Eritrea.
It is estimated by the United Nations that 5,000 Eritreans leave the country each month, making it one of the world’s top producers of refugees. Located in East Africa, Eritrea is an oppressive dictatorship that has imposed indefinite military service on its citizens, denies basic freedoms to its people and routinely tortures dissidents.
A quarter-million Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers have settled in refugee camps in neighbouring Ethiopia and Sudan alone where they face protracted and seemingly indefinite stays in refugee camps.
In preparation and anticipation for the sponsorship journey ahead, the congregations held a joint “Movie and Musings” event highlighted by a question and answer session and conversation with Bereket Alazar, Mike Berhane and Zedingle Ghebremusse from the Eritrean community in Edmonton and a screening of the documentary film Refugee: The Eritrean Exodus.
When our Eritrean community guests were asked how best the church can respond to the situation in Eritrea, we were encouraged to share stories of the crisis and help educate people about Eritrean people’s silent suffering amidst government corruption.
Hosting a screening of the documentary film is a great way to share the story of the Eritrean people and to educate others about the humanitarian crisis that lives on in that country. The documentary follows Chris Cotter, an American traveller, as he explores a common migration path through Ethiopia and into Israel, tracking the plight of Eritrean refugees. Chris and his crew visit several refugee camps where refugees tell stories of oppression, torture and survival, all while displaying their spirit of hope.
Groups can place requests to host a screening of the documentary (with a portion of proceeds from screenings going dir- ectly to refugee organizations dedicated to helping Eritrean refugees) via the website at theeritreanexodus.com
— Rev. Aaron Schnell and Wendy Christensen-Grosfield