Bags of clothing from Vietnamese immigrants in Abbotsford have found their way to help clothe Karen refugees in Surrey, thanks to a cooperative effort between church groups.
David and Sharon Luu, who immigrated to Canada from Vietnam in the 1990s, have been active in supporting the young Abbotsford Vietnamese Fellowship congregation. As the parents of four girls, the Luus approached Sue Kehler of Emmanuel Mennonite Church about what to do with their daughters’ outgrown clothing. Kehler knew of the ministry to Karen refugees from Burma through Living Hope Christian Fellowship of Surrey, and contacted Gertrude Vogt of that congregation, who received eight bags of clothing from the Luus to give to the Karen immigrants.
The clothing was a welcome gift to the Karen people, says Vogt. As refugee settlers in Canada, the Karen get a small allowance for food and basic needs, but those needs often go beyond what the government can supply. “We [the church] are a bridge for refugees to church and other agencies,” says Vogt. “We try to pick up what other agencies don’t do.”
“I get calls from many churches asking what we need,” says Vogt. “This year, we had 12 [Karen] babies born. We distributed clothing and this was an open door to homes where we invited the families to come to church if not already involved.”
Vogt explains that, while many of the younger Karen are working, the middle-aged and seniors have more difficulty learning English and thus finding jobs, so they cannot easily afford needs such as clothing.
At the moment, the Living Hope group is in particular need of bunk beds, rather than clothing. Large families sharing small houses can make particular use of bunk beds, she notes.