Conference Announcement: “Life as A Refugee”. June 20th, 2017

THE LONDON CROSS CULTURAL LEARNER CENTRE

in partnership with

Western Centre for Research on Migration and Ethnic Relations, the London Public Library, Pillar Non-Profit Network, South London Neighbourhood Resource Centre, London and Middlesex Local Immigration Partnership, and Immploy

Cordially invites you to celebrate World Refugee Day on June 20th with our annual Conference

LIFE AS A REFUGEE: FROM REFUGEE TO LONDONER

(Conference Facility at Goodwill Industries, 255 Horton St. E, London)

To register please see: https://lifeasaregugee2017.eventbrite.ca or by contacting Dalia Elbargisy at delbargisy@lcclc.org or by phone at 519-432-1133 ext. 226

This year’s event will highlight the topic “From Refugee to Londoner” and will centre around an expert panel discussion of pre- and post-migration and refugee experiences, challenges newcomers face, and promising practices that facilitate newcomers’ transition into the community.

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Another Refugee Success Story in London, Ontario

My contacts have been writing with encouraging updates about the families they have sponsored. Here’s another.

A bit of background. I met a group made up of seven women about a year ago. They were willing to sponsor whatever family was most in need. I mention the gender because the family they ended up welcoming consists of mother, father and FOUR SONS! (For reasons of confidentiality, I am not providing the name of the group. But I am very grateful for their hard work and kindness.)

All six arrived in November, and have found their first months of Canadian life to be very cold but enjoyable.

The husband and wife are in their forties, and are taking ESL classes. The  two older boys are already eager students in High School.

 

A Big Step Backwards on Refugees

I spoke of “gloom” in my last post. The reason is that a policy which had been important in promoting private sponsorship of refugees from the crisis in and around Syria has now been suspended.

As I understand things, there had been an exemption in place which allowed Groups of Five to apply to sponsor Iraqis and Syrians who did not already have UN certification. That is, ordinarily, an overseas refugee needs to get certified first by the UNHRC (or, in certain instances, by the government where they have sought refuge), and then a sponsor in Canada can begin the application process to bring them here. Under this exemption, the Iraqi or Syrian family would instead be certified by Canadian officials overseas, once a G5 application was approved.

This exemption allowed Londoners to put forward many applications which would otherwise have been impossible — because the UN, being utterly overwhelmed with cases, had effectively stopped issuing certificates.

The upshot would seem to be that unless a potential sponsoree has UN certification already, there is no longer anything we can do to help.

Please see here for the details: http://www.rstp.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/FAQ-on-Public-Policy-G5-and-CS.pdf

 

More Family Updates

As promised, I am writing with some positive news, to counteract the overarching gloom. This time, the subject is family “K”.

About one year ago, I was able to pair up a young Syrian man in his 20s, a graduate student here at Western, with a single very generous local donor. The donor offered to cover the whole family’s expenses. As a result, this student managed to rescue his father and mother, a sister around his same age, and a 10-year-old brother. They had been two years on the run.

The new arrivals have certainly faced challenges. The life of refugees, even once safe in Canada, isn’t all roses. The sister is receiving weekly medical care for a kidney condition; and not understanding English made the treatments frightening at first. And the ten-year-old brother could use some entertaining activities, as he feels rather isolated at present.

Still, all five are full of hope for the future, and refuse to cling to past suffering. They have located a match for organ donation, and the sister is scheduled for a kidney transplant. The familiar are in regular contact with their kind and caring Canadian sponsor. And they are convinced that, given the warm welcome they have received already, Canada is the best place to pursue their future.

The son, who wrote to me with this update, promised not to forget the generosity the family has experienced, and to offer the same to others in the future. As he said, “Life is like a wheel, it has to be make a 360 degree turn to continue the cycle of life, so one day you give, the other day you will be given by others in return.”

Salaam and welcome!

Syrian Refugees in London: A Little Positive News

Things have been moving very slowly in terms of processing refugee applications. And the news about numbers from the Federal Government is looking bleak.

In light of that, I thought some positive news would be a welcome change.

London’s Byron United Church has been a leader in bringing over families from the crisis in and around Syria. In particular, they have shared tips and training with numerous other groups. In addition, they have sponsored several extended families. Don Scanlon recently sent me a heartwarming update about two of them.

Family “O”, as I’ll call them, has four children. One is at Fanshawe, two are in high school. The youngest is polishing up his English. Both parents are already working, one full-time at a bakery.  Family “A” has three children faring very well in public school, the father has secured a well-paying job with benefits, and the family’s special needs child is getting excellent medical care.

In sum, Don reports that “everyone is genuinely happy to be here in London”.

Long Term Housing Required for Syrian Family of Five

A newly arrived Syrian refugee family is in need of long term housing.

There is a husband and wife and three children: a 13 year old boy who speaks a little English, a 11 year old girl and a 3 year old boy. The father is a dentist with very good English. This nuclear family has relatives here already, established in the community, so they have a good support network.

Right now all five are staying in a basement apartment made available by generous donors from Western Ontario Friends of Refugees. Though grateful and gracious, what the family require is something larger and more long term.

In particular, they are looking for a 3 bedroom townhouse with gas heat (to keep it affordable). And the parents are anxious that the children will attend a good school.

Please get in touch with me or Willa McDiarmid willmcdiarmid@gmail.com if you have any leads.

Information Session Tomorrow

On Nov. 22, 2016 the London & Middlesex Local Immigration Partnership (LMLIP) and the London Cross Cultural Learner Centre (CCLC) will be hosting an information session for groups and individuals who are privately sponsoring refugees.

The Information Session will provide sponsors with:  Information on services and supports available for newcomers in our community, and  An opportunity to network and connect with services and other sponsors in our community

The session will be held at the BMO Centre, 295 Rectory Street. Registration and refreshments start at 12:00pm and the session will begin promptly at 1:00pm.

“We see this as a great opportunity to continue some of the terrific work ongoing in our community and one step in the journey of the development of a vibrant and welcoming community for all. As the LMLIP, we are so pleased to be able to facilitate this work by providing a forum for collaboration and sharing in support of our newcomers to the City of London”, says Dev Sainani, Co-Chair of the LMLIP.

About LMLIP The London & Middlesex Local Immigration Partnership is a collaborative community initiative to facilitate and strengthen the integration of immigrants into a community that is welcoming. LMLIP is one of thirty five Local Immigration Partnerships across Ontario funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and supported by the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, International Trade and Immigration and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. LMLIP is co-led by the City of London and a community member. For more information about LMLIP, please visit the website at http://www.immigration.london.ca/LMLIP

About CCLC The London Cross Cultural Learner Centre is a community organization that exists to provide integration services and support to newcomers and to promote intercultural awareness and understanding. Our vision is to build a more welcoming and just community where newcomers can succeed. CCLC is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and by the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. For more information about CCLC, please visit the website at http://www.lcclc.org/ For more information about the session, please contact LMLIP Project Coordinator – Huda Hussein (hhussein@lmlip.ca, Ph: 519-663-0551 ext. 283)

List of Families Requiring Sponsors

 

I have compiled a list of thirteen families still looking for sponsors. If you can help to sponsor one of these, please get in touch and I will connect you with the relevant local family member. Also, please encourage your friends and associates to consider forming a group!

1) Kurdish family, parents and three children, originally from Iraq. Presently in Greece. [A family member has collected sufficient funds, but needs a sponsoring group.]

2) Parents and baby, from Syria, presently in Turkey. [A local family member has collected about half the necessary funds. About $8000 would still need to be raised.]

3) Syrian family, parents and three teenage children, now in Jordan.

4) Syrian family, parents and three year old daughter, presently in Turkey. Already registered as UN refugees.

5) Mother and father, both professionals in their thirties, and three young children. The eldest, a boy of 9, has special medical needs. All are Syrians, and are presently located in Lebanon. [A local family members has collected some funds already.]

6) Mother and father, the gentleman being a real estate agent, with five children between the ages of eight and twelve. Relatives of family #5, they too are all Syrians, and are presently located in Lebanon as well.

7) Single mother with two daughters aged six and eight. Father has been missing for three years. I am unsure where this family is originally from or where they are located at this point.

8) Mother and father and their five daughters. All are Syrians, all are presently in Turkey.

9) Mother and her six children, two minors and four adults. All are Yezidis from Iraq who are now in Turkey. All have official UN registration.

10) A young couple and their two children, presently in Turkey. I do not know where they are originally from, nor the ages of the children.

11) Eight Yezidis from Iraq, presently in a camp in Turkey. Grandmother, mother and six children between 15 and 26.

12) Mother and father and three older children, all originally from Syria. They are presently in Turkey.

13) Single mother from Syria with four small children. One is very ill. All are presently in Turkey.

Iraqi Family of Eight needs a Sponsor

I have been made aware of a family of eight, currently in a refugee camp in Turkey, which requires a sponsor. Here’s a recent photo:

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They have friends here in London who can help with settlement, but these friends do not have the necessary funds. So a sponsoring group would need to help with financing.

The family consists of a widow in her 50s, her six children between the ages of 15 and 26, and the grandmother.

If you can help out, please contact Khaled Abdallah directly at <xalid2000x@gmail.com> or drop me a line.

I received an email from Hana Moussa of the South London Neighbourhood Resource Centre. She writes about another young man needing assistance:

A newcomer Syrian family is looking for a sponsor for their 24 year old son who is currently a refugee claimant in Germany. Their son had originally intended to settle in Germany with hopes that he can find a safe place to stay for himself and his family… The son is still very dependent on his parents for support and likewise his parents are dependent on him for support in the household because of his sibling’s difficulties.

After he left [for Germany], his parents sold all of their valuable possessions and sent the money to him because he has not been able to support himself financially. A short time after, the entire family was informed about the opportunity to come to Canada. They had no choice but to come with hopes that one day their son will follow them here.

His parents are depressed and unable to sleep at night because they are constantly worrying about him. They are having immense difficulties providing care for their children who [are already here in London and] have a high need for attention and care. The family is having a very hard time so far and cannot cope without his presence because they rely heavily on him for assistance.

His separation from the family has caused a lot of stress for his siblings because they are very attached to him and miss him dearly.