London’s School Board Ready to Receive Refugees

TVDSB offers warm welcome to Syrian refugee families

A special reception centre will open its doors in London on January 4, 2016 to help Syrian refugee families access a full range of education services across the Thames Valley District School Board. See here for details:


Another Appeal for Sponsorship

I am writing with another case of a local who hopes to sponsor her family, but lacks the financial resources.

Ms Ganya Al-Zuhairi has written to me about her family. Her mother (52), brother (26) and sister (25) are Iraqis who sought asylum in Syrian in 2010. They did so because they are Mandaens (a Semitic group which venerates some of the figures of Christian Bible, especially John the Baptist), and were persecuted by the Muslim majority.

The three remain in Syria, and are registered with the UNHRC.
If you can provide any kind of assistance, including just information about where they should turn next, please contact Ms Al-Zuhairi at: <>.

Campaign out of Guelph, Ontario

My friend and colleague Mark McCullagh writes with news:

As you may know, Canada is the only country in the world that has a private refugee sponsorship program. Given the magnitude of the crisis in Syria, my wife Joanne and I wanted to take advantage of this unique opportunity by sponsoring a Syrian refugee family to settle in Canada. As a result, we formed a group, which we call “Refugees to Neighbours.” We’re a collection of old and new friends in Guelph, Hamilton and Burlington, who decided to respond to this massive crisis in a small but important way. Although we will be the sponsors, there is an opportunity for you to help as well. ANY donation amount would be SO appreciated.

Tax receipts can be given for any donation and will be issued by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), which acts as holder of the funds until our refugee family arrives. MCC will not be involved in the process to bring the family here, nor will they be involved with the family after their arrival as we are responsible for sponsoring and settlement support for one year. Due to privacy reasons, MCC does not inform us of who has donated, so if you do donate, please write us a note in the “comments and additional instructions” section as they will forward these notes to us.

Please note that if you click on the link, the DONATE BUTTON for our specific fund is at the BOTTOM of this page (scroll all the way down). The donate button at the top right corner is for MCC’s general fund. Here is the link to donate and/or obtain more information about what our group is doing:

If you’re not able to donate at this time, but have in-kind donations (such as furniture, bedding, household items) that you may be able to contribute, please let me know. Here is our list of needed items.

Lastly, if you’d like to follow us on Facebook, here is our page:

Many, many thanks for reading this and/or for any type of donations! Have a pleasant holiday season.

Mark and Joanne

London United for Refugees gives a new opportunity help Syrian refugees settling in London


London, On. December 11: Mayor Matt Brown unveiled London United for Refugees — a new way for Londoners to help refugees of the Syrian crisis settle successfully in our community. This new online campaign launched by United Way London & Middlesex, London Cross Cultural Learner Centre and supported by Mayor Brown, will raise funds to address the urgent support needs of Syrian refugees who are beginning to arrive in our community.

“This is a co-ordinated, community-wide response to support these new Canadians, these new Londoners,” said Mayor Matt Brown. “London is a caring and compassionate city. We’re going to do everything we possibly can to welcome these families.”

For many refugees, escaping the harsh realities of their country is just the first step in a long journey. Once they arrive in London, their new life will be overwhelming. Funds raised through London United for Refugees will be invested in front-line mental health supports, employment services, and community inclusion programs designed to help them settle successfully.

“As this situation began to unfold, it became very clear to us that demands placed on social services in our community would increase,” explained Andrew Lockie, CEO United Way London & Middlesex. “At the same time, donors have been calling looking for ways to help. London United for Refugees is a way to address this urgent need, over and above our annual fundraising Campaign.”

United Way London & Middlesex has a long history of helping refugees and newcomers settle in our community. Already this year, United Way has committed to investing $283,500 in programs and services proven to have the greatest impact in terms of helping newcomers thrive.
To give or for more information visit:
For more information, please contact:
Kelly Ziegner, Director, Community Engagement
519-636-0023 (mobile)
Follow @unitedwaylm or #UnitedforRefugees on twitter for latest updates.



Refugee family requires sponsorship

Syrian Refugee Crisis Update for Residents of London, Ontario:

One of the responsibilities I have taken on, as leader of the “sponsorship applications” task force in the city, is to connect local groups who wish to sponsor a family with refugee families overseas who wish to come to London. Typically, this involves a family member or friend here who will be involved in fund raising, preparing the application, and settling the family.

The good news, for those groups who pursue this route, is that this increases the total number of refugees coming to Canada. These are not part of the governments 25,000. The bad news is, at least for the foreseeable future, it is much harder to have donations treated as charitable, and hence tax deductible. (That’s because Canada Revenue Agency considers this to be a gift to the family overseas.)

In any case, if you or someone you know wishes to sponsor a family, I am sharing a first case. Dimah Azzam <> wishes to help bring over an Iraqi family. They are presently in Amman, Jordan. There is a mother, Hanan, and four children, ages 6, 8, 9 and 12.

Please let me know if you can help.

Call for Volunteers: Syrian Refugees in London, ON

Syrian Refugee Crisis Update for Residents of London, Ontario:
A message from Syrian Refugee Fund…
Al Hamdulillah, London is expecting 100 families to arrive in London between now and December 31. More will arrive in 2016 inshallah. The effort to welcome and integrate them into the London Community is a heavy task that will require the effort and support of all of us. The Muslim Community will play an integral role with government and settlement agencies along with Church groups and other private sponsors to make their transition to a new life in London a smooth one.
Everyone is asking, “HOW CAN I HELP?”

Below is a list of services and items that are needed.


Do you have an apartment or furnished basement that a family can live in for a few months or longer? Settlement agencies are looking for suitable housing for upto 30 families to live in.


Many of our new visitors are coming with almost nothing and will need clothing for the entire family (children, adult male and female), especially warm clothing for the coming winter.  Furniture that is in mint condition will be needed to help families once they transition to their permanent housing situation.


Many volunteers are needed to help orient families to London, taking them to appointments, shopping.  If you can spare a couple of hours a week to help a family, please help.


A network of health professionals are needed to care for their complex needs which include primary care providers, specialists, psychological and mental health care providers, dentists, dental hygienists.


Legal and paralegal services are needed to aid families navigate various government agencies with form completion, notarization, document translation etc.


Many families have little or no english and will require certified and lay interpreters to help with the many appointments and meetings they will have in the early days after their arrival.


There are other families registered as refugees outside of Syria that wish to come to Canada but dont have the funds needed to be sponsored. A family of 4 is estimated to cost $20,000 to cover all settlement costs for a full year. If you or a group of individuals can commit to financially sponsoring a family, we have families waiting to come.


Most of the coming refugees will be looking for employment to help support themselves once their settlement is complete. Many are skilled in various trades and professionals. Please consider if you or your company would be able to provide any form of employment to our new guests.

Do you have any other service or skill to offer our guests not listed?  Please let us know. Any individual that will directly interact with our new guests will require to attend a short orientation and training session.

If you are able to help with any of the listed services please contact the Islamic Centre or go directly to to register your information in our database that will be made available to all settlement agencies and sponsoring groups.

Update on LGBTQ Refugee Sponsorship

My colleague and friend Wendy Pearson writes with more news about our little group’s campaign.

The Lesbians and Gays Support Refugees team and our partner organization and Sponsorship Agreement Holder, the Metropolitan Community Church, would like to express our deep gratitude to all who have so far contributed to our campaign to bring LGBT couples or a small LGBT family or a number of LGBT individuals to London as part of the larger refugee effort.

We are very grateful and happy to be able to report that we have so far raised $23,392.36 toward our initial goal of $27,000. This means that we are now looking for our first refugee(s) to bring to London and will report back once we have the actual move here in hand. At that point, we may also be looking for volunteers with specific skills.

One thing we know we will need is someone who can help our refugee(s) with finances: budgeting, paying bills, setting up a bank account, applying for any appropriate benefits, loan repayments, and income taxes. If anyone feels confident in this area and would like to help out, please let me know.

Also, if you are still looking to donate, donations can be made by cash or cheque or online through Canada Helps.

1) Cash — bring us cash; if it’s more than $10, give us your address and you will receive a tax receipt from the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) London.

2) Cheque — make your cheque out to MCC London and write ‘LGSR’ in the memo line; make sure your address is on the cheque or provided separately. Again, MCC London will provide a tax receipt for all donations over $10.

3) Online — working with our community partner Metropolitan Community Church London, we are pleased to announce we are now accepting online donations. Online donations can be made through MCC London at Canada Helps, mentioning LGSR in the “message” area on the form. After you donate online, a tax receipt will automatically be sent to your email account. Due to the percentage taken by Canada Helps of each donation, we are asking that, if possible, all donations of over $100 be submitted by cheque (or contact us by e-mail regarding Interac transfers).

Many thanks, again, for all your generosity and offers of help.