Here is a little summary of the highlights of our refugee efforts at this time:
Honada's family: The family is doing well and really settling in bit by bit. There have been MANY health and dental concerns to deal with and I need to send another HUGE thank you to our team of drivers and translators that have made all of this possible. By the end of August all of the family should be dentally healthy. Whew! Dr. Minko Bach has been amazing and provided many of the dental visits for free, and there have been very many! We are still working through having the children assessed for their disabilities and this is not a speedy process, but it is in the works. Sadly, Honada has ongoing difficulty with persistent dizziness. This is a condition she has suffered from for more than two years and her doctor is working with her to figure it out and get her stabilized. This has meant that she really is not able to ride the bus as the dizziness becomes much worse on the bus.
The whole family is taking great strides in their English skills. Our fabulous team of drivers and English tutors and the kids' excellent schools are making this happen. The parents attend English classes four days per week, rain or shine and practice some more at home with regular tutoring in the evenings. We know that English will be their ticket to true independence and success, so all of this support is so valuable to them. Ahmad, turned 12 in May and had a wonderful, loud birthday party with many friends. His sister, Nour, was not pleased that all the attention was for him, as these are the first birthday parties any of them have had. Birthday parties are not a thing in the middle east!
Ibrahim and Nour, have taken longer to get going with their English, due to their special needs, but lately we have seen big strides happening for both of them. Last week, Ibrahim was translating for his mom whenever he knew the English word! These two have had very few opportunities for education, so they are just learning how. We have recently learned that when Nour was in the refugee camp, she used to babysit and she had a cat. She is really missing those little kids who loved her so and her precious cat.
Our support team has been extra busy lately for two reasons. First, the family first had a flood in their basement. A pipe from the water main broke outside the house and did quite a lot of damage. A restoration company will be working there for weeks to come. Then, two weeks ago, there was a break-in at the house while the family was out at school. The thieves took the children's playstation and a laptop computer, all of Honada's medication, about $200, and some clothing. All of the items were donated and there was nothing of great value, but the family was very upset and it caused a real backslide in their confidence. CBC did a TV/Radio interview with me, Wafaa translating, and the family about the story. Here is a link to the story:
The local community association was amazingly supportive. They had a GoFundMe page and raised over $3000! A delightful nest egg for our family. Kids from the school had a fundraising drive to replace the Playstation, and many neighbors stopped by to tell them how sorry they were to hear the disturbing news. Once again, wonderful people have rallied around in support.
Other Refugees: We wait in hopeful anticipation for Ali, who must still be waiting in Kenya. We know that he has been issued a travel visa, but we do not know any more.
Saber: His application has not yet been processed. We have been waiting for new allocations for applications from the Canadian government. Our SAH (sponsorship agreement holder) was finally given an allocation, but it was only for 6, while there were 120 hoping to be submitted! Saber waits for news that he will be able to join his sister here. Everyone is invited to encourage our government to accept more private refugee applications.
Ahmad and Asmaa: This is Said's brother and his family with 3 children. We are co-sponsoring this family with Gulnar Carlisle's group. Their application has been submitted, just under a deadline for Syrian applications that was suddenly announced. A big thank you to Michael McGee and Bishop Melissa Skelton who made time in their very busy schedules to make that happen. We have not heard anything since the application was submitted and have no timeline, except that our government previously announced an intention to bring another 10,000 Syrians before the end of the year. This family is waiting in the same Lebanese camp where our family was before they came.
Additional Requests: We have several requests to sponsor other refugees. Here are some of the requests we have at the moment:
- A family of 3 from the Congo; Father and two children who hope to join family who are here and will support them. The family has already raised $6000.
- A family of 3 from Syria who are currently in Jordan; mother who is 28 and two sons, age 8 and 9. The father is missing and presumed dead. This is the oldest daughter of a government sponsored family who is living in Burnaby.
- A family of 3 from Syria who are currently in Lebanon; mother and two girls, age 12 and 10. This is one of Honada's sisters and they have suffered trauma.
- An Iraqi couple who are Bahai. They left Iraq due to persecution and went to Saudi Arabia, but were recently expelled from there. They are now in Turkey. Not sure if there are children also. There is a group of 5 who want to sponsor them and are looking for a church to co-sponsor in order to attempt to speed up the process, which they have been told will be several years as is. All of the support is already in place for them. They would be joining family here.
Thanks again to everyone for your generous support! There have been recent fundraising efforts and cheques are in the mail to the REST fund, so as soon as I have all of those in, I will send out a financial update.