After posting a plea on Facebook Monday 4th Jan, Winnipeg author Karen Dudley collected enough furniture, clothing and bedding to help one refugee family create a home in Winnipeg in just two days. "It was quite incredible, really," said Dudley.
In minutes the offers began to pour in from friends and strangers for everything from gently used winter parkas to an Apple computer. "I just got inundated with offers. I've got mattresses, I've got dressers, I've got love seats and of course pots and pans, dishes and money," she said Wednesday.
This is Dudley's first attempt to help a refugee family. She was moved to get involved after dropping off some gently used linens at the Canadian Muslim Women's Institute in mid-December. While at the institute, she met the Alnuaimi family: a father, mother and daughters age 8 and 10.
They are government-sponsored refugees, so they do not have one single group or family helping them, she said. Dudley stepped into that gap with her Facebook appeal for help for the family. The Alnuaimis came to Winnipeg from ISIS-controlled northern Iraq.
Dudley said she met the parents only briefly, but spent more time with their daughters, who were helping at the institute while their parents took a class. "These were just lovely girls. They were so polite. They were so nice. They helped us unload the car, and they were of a similar age to our daughter," said Dudley, whose daughter is 12.
Dudley said she couldn't help but identify with the family. "I kept thinking about them," she said. "They're so similar to us.… If the situation was different, that could be us." Dudley plans to to meet the family Wednesday night to bring over some smaller donations, including three bags of vegetables from a Manitoba farm.
"These people have nothing. You know, they've been coming here with nothing … and we have so much here," she said. If people want to donate additional items or money, Dudley said they can contact the Canadian Muslim Women's Institute.