Michael Loebach, an immigration lawyer here in London who has been exceedingly helpful and generous with his time during this crisis, has passed along a request for help.
A Syrian woman, already here in London with her aunts and sisters, wants to bring over her two sons. They are 11 and 20. The older son has a serious injury from a bomb. (Another sibling died in a bombing two months ago.)
The children are presently with their father, the ex-husband, in a camp in Turkey. It is hoped that the ex-husband could also be sponsored – both for his own safety, and so that he can continue to help raise the boys.
Given the very limited number of spots allocated to London’s Sponsorship Agreement Holders, a sponsoring group would need to apply via the Group of Five route. However, with Mr. Loebach’s kind assistance, we are setting up a little “task force” that will help with the paperwork.
Both Jill Barber and Ben Hill wrote to me with a good suggestion. They noted that many Western Ontario students will be graduating and moving out in the coming weeks. Every year when that happens, furniture shows up on London’s curbs. They both wonder whether there isn’t a way to have that furniture donated to arriving families?
Jill notes in particular that the Salam Community Donation Centre needs items. Ben suggests that we might help students get their items to Goodwill, which is providing vouchers to refugees.
I am sure that Western students would be keen to help, if only they knew how. Does anyone know how to get the students who are moving out connected with groups that are collecting donations? I can put volunteers in touch with Ben and Jill.
My friend Emily Wood has shared the story of a Syrian family, currently living in Turkey. The husband of the family has gone missing, leaving a single mother with two daughters (ages 6 and 8).
The woman’s brother-in-law has lived in London for several years, and would like to bring the family here. They also want to bring over the grandmother, who is with the mother and her daughters in Turkey.
Salah Hussein, a student here at Western Ontario, has written to me about his six family members. They are Sudanese, from Darfur, and are in a refugee camp in Ghana (West Africa).
Mr. Hussein is hoping to find a group in London which can help him sponsor them. They are ages 8, 12, 14, 15, 20 and 21.
You can reach him directly at <email@example.com>, or email me.
Mr. Okba Abdulah wrote to me to share the case of a family in need of sponsorship. It is a family of three, mother, father and one year old child. They are originally from Syria, and fled because the father was to be forcefully conscripted into a militia. They are now in Turkey.
Mr. Abdulah tells me that a fund raising campaign has already begun, and is going well. But sponsorship by a group of Canadians would make a big difference.
It’s always a pleasure to receive news from Pastor Greg Brawn from Byron United. Here’s the latest happy update:
Our fifth Syrian family arrived in London on Family Day – very appropriate!
So we now have all of our families here, except the one husband [has been separated from the family] for two years. We have word he could be with us in the coming weeks.
Perhaps in March, we will have a gathering for all five families and anyone else who wants to drop in to connect with them.
You and others involved in the “London-wide” coordination project are certainly welcome!
Please join us for an evening of sharing stories and exchanging insights.
Monday, February 29th at 6 p.m. at Central High, at the corner of Waterloo and Dufferin. (Kindly hosted by the Social Justice Club at Central High School.)
We will have brief chats by:
- a refugee recently arrived from the crisis in Syria;
- a group which has successfully sponsored refugees;
- a Londoner who is trying to bring family here;
- a group which is still working on their sponsorship application.
In addition to sharing our experiences, the meeting will also focus on strategies for fund raising.
To those looking to sponsor a refugee family, and to those who have family overseas and need help sponsoring them, please consider registering at this site:
They are trying to do in a more formal, organized, way what some of us have been doing ad hoc here in London.
Lori Baldwin Sands of the First United Church Refugee Committee wrote to tell me that they are preparing for the arrival of a Syrian family in the next few weeks.
It is a family of five. Mother and father and three young sons, ages 9, 7 and six months.
I have received a message from Prof. Yahya Kharrat about a recent event at the London Muslim Mosque. An edited version appears below:
The new Canadians that sought refuge in Canada from Syria are arriving. So far, around 500 individuals arrived in London and more are expected by the end of March. [The Cross Cultural Learner Centre] CCLC, along with London Muslim Mosque, are doing a wonderful job in taking care of them.
I was asked to deliver our weekly Friday sermon in Arabic (because no refugees understood English) at the place they are staying… I went there and presented my sermon (Khutba). The theme was “Be Sincere and Loyal to Canada”. I elaborated on the Quranic verses and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad that are commanding Muslims to show appreciation, allegiance, and kindness to those who are offering help. Moreover, I talked about how Canada is now their new home; and how Islam taught us to integrate into a new society, and respect its laws and remain honest, hard-working and appreciative. Moreover, I also encouraged them to become active citizens and show faithful willingness to help others that way Canada helped them.
London Muslim Mosque is planning to make a public dinner for them and invite the Mayor of London and other government officials.
The new Canadians that I met after Khutba are so gracious to all the individuals and organizations that helped them to come to Canada, and who are now supporting them with the resettlement process. They send a special thanks to everyone that contributed, and hope that one day they can contribute back to this great country.