The Holy Name Toronto Refugee Sponsorship Group (RSG) held our first meeting on Dec 13, 2015. Our second meeting was held January 3rd, 2016.
We are working with Office for Refugees (ORAT) which is coordinating "Project Hope". This is an effort by the Archdiocese of Toronto to raise money and bring 100 families from Iraq and Syria to Greater Toronto as refugees. These newcomer families will become Permanent Residents of Canada.
We have filed our paperwork with Canadian Immigration. We do not have any firm timeline on when our family will arrive, but most likely within the next 9 months. Some groups are getting only 24 hours notice. It is a fast moving and fluid situation so we are preparing an arrival plan just in case they get here much sooner than we expect.
We have made contact with our family - they are now aware of us, and are relieved to hear there is a group helping to support them in Canada. We plan to try and have regular contact with the family over the coming months.
Our volunteers are now organized into smaller groups. Each group is responsible for an aspect of preparing for the family's arrival and helping them settle once they get here.
We have connected with the Arab Community Centre of Toronto and they have generously offered to help us with our sponsorship. A settlement counsellor with the Centre will work with us. He is from the same city as our family, and speaks their dialect so that is a bonus. Our group met with him on Sunday Jan. 3rd.
We need immediate help with the following things:
1) Vans or Larger SUVs. We are also trying to put together a list of people who have vans or larger SUVs who can help out in moving donations. If you are interested – see contact info below.
2) Short Term Accommodation. If our family arrives on very short notice we may have need of a short term room or suite for them to stay in until their actual apartment is set up. This will likely be for 1 to 4 weeks. A large guest room in your home or in-law basement suite might work. Please contact us and we can discuss. Our aim is to move the family to their own apartment as quickly as possible. We would also cover any food or reasonable short term expenses.
Thank you for your support and donations so far. Check on the progress our parish is making at www.holynametoronto.com/refugee
Contact us:Holy Name Parish office: 416-466-8281Direct Email: email@example.comWeb: holynametoronto.com/refugee
Update on Refugee Sponsorship
On Sunday Jan. 17th some of the volunteers in the Holy Name refugee sponsorship group made the first Skype call with the family the parish is sponsoring. Even with the language barrier, and despite their difficult circumstances, our conversation with the family included lots of smiles, and even laughter. There was also a lot of hand waving between us and their baby. She was still waving at us when we said good-bye. It was a moving experience to finally "meet" and speak with them. They are grateful for our support, and are anxious for word their application is approved and they will soon be on their way. They are in desperate need of diapers and baby formula so we will be sending them some help to meet that need. We will stay in regular contact - either through e-mail or Skype, even if it just to say hello, and continue to get to know them. The family has yet to be interviewed by Canadian Embassy officials in Jordan so at this stage, it is impossible to know when they will arrive in Toronto. We are trying to arrange a meeting with our federal MP, Julie Dabrusin, to raise awareness of our family's file. The goal is to move that file from Citizenship and Immigration in Winnipeg, to the Canadian Embassy in Jordan for the next step in the approval process. We will keep you updated. If you would like to volunteer with the Holy Name refugee sponsorship group in any capacity, please let us know. If you have any questions, please just ask. Thank you for your ongoing interest and support. You can reach us at: Holy Name Parish office 416-466-8281 Or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Update on Refugee Sponsorship
If you were at the 10am Mass last Sunday, then you heard from Khalid Guiliana - a settlement counselor from the Arab Community Center of Toronto. He is working with the Holy Name Refugee Sponsorship group to prepare for the arrival and ongoing settlement of our family.
Khalid was part of the skype call we made with the family last Sunday after Mass. It was an emotional moment when Khalid realized that he is from a village in Iraq that is literally five kilometers away from the hometown of the woman in the family we are sponsoring. There was much excitement at this realization. She said she felt better knowing that someone from her part of Iraq would be helping she and her husband and daughter settle here.These skype calls happen every few weeks so that we can get to know each other, and build a relationship prior to their arrival. We have been told by our sponsorship agreement holder - ORAT (Office For Refugees with the Archdiocese of Toronto) that the best way to stay informed about the status of our family is through our local MP.We are in steady contact with people working in the office of our Liberal MP Julie Dabrusin. The latest information we have is that the Canadian Embassy in Amman Jordan has started the process of security and other checks that will hopefully lead to the family being approved to come to Toronto.This is a process that could take weeks, or possibly months. We simply do not know. There is a sense that because the federal government has now reached its goal of bringing 25-thousand Syrian refugees to Canada, refugee applications from Iraqis and others already in the system will be processed forthwith. We do expect that once the Embassy contacts our family for an interview, the process will move fairly quickly.
In the meantime, we continue our preparations, and we'll keep you updated. As always, thank you for your ongoing interest and support.
The Holy Name Refugee Sponsorship group.
As you may know the federal government has adjusted its refugee sponsorship plans since reaching its target of 25 thousand Syrian refugees. The change has been controversial with many private sponsorship groups and the government responded to their pushback.As far as we can tell these changes will not directly affect the Iraqi family that Holy Name is sponsoring. There is a chance that with fewer staff working in the embassies the process may slow down a bit. But our latest information is that the family is being checked. The timeframe for their arrival remains uncertain but if government projections are accurate and all goes well with the medical and security checks, we could see them arrive between July and September this year. We will keep close tabs on their status with monthly check-ins through our MP's office. We will get another update at the end of this month. In the meantime we have been overwhelmed with the generosity of so many people who have donated their time as well as furniture and household items. We have just about everything we need to set the family up comfortably. We will do an inventory of the few things we still need and let you know how you can help. We have leads on a couple of apartments in the neighbourhood. We have submitted a budget to our sponsorship agreement holder - ORAT - the Office for Refugees with the Archdiocese of Toronto. In short we are in great shape. Now all we need is word the family is on their way!If you have any questions or concerns please get in touch. Thank you for your patience and support.The Holy Name Refugee sponsorship committee.
Our sponsored family is still waiting for the Canadian Embassy in Amman Jordan to contact them for the next stage in their application - an interview.
The average processing time for applications in Jordan is 10-months. I should stress that is an average time. Some applications will take longer. Our application will reach the 10-month mark in early October. We are certain our family's application will go beyond ten months because after the interview, there are still security and medical checks to be done.
We do not know where our family is in the queue, nor do we have any way of finding out.Our Liberal MP, Julie Dabrusin and her staff continue to be very helpful in checking up on the status of our family, and other refugees sponsored by groups in her riding. She tells us we are not alone. There are many sponsorship groups waiting for word on the status of their families.
Ms Dabrusin is also lobbying the federal Liberal caucus to address how Immigration can give sponsorship groups more up to date information on tracking the progress of refugee applications.
The Holy Name sponsorship committee remains committed to getting our family through the process and hopefully on a plane to Toronto. We are in regular e-mail and skype contact with the family. Everyone is discouraged at the time this is taking but we must remain optimistic and patient. Our settlement counsellor, Khalid, may travel to Amman Jordan in November. His mother-in-law and sister-in-law are also refugees there, waiting for their applications to be processed. Khalid and his wife plan to visit their family in Amman, and if he does go, he will try and meet our family as well. This is all part of our ongoing efforts to build a relationship with our family.
If you have any questions for the committee, please get in touch. E-mail us at email@example.comWebpage: holynametoronto.com/refugee
Thank you for your ongoing support.
The Holy Name Refugee Sponsorship Committee
Thank you to everyone in the Holy Name Refugee Sponsorship group who was able to drop by the Rectory after Mass on Sunday Oct. 2nd. for the skype chat with our refugee family in Jordan. Our settlement counsellor Khalid translated for us. The family was very reassured by our ongoing support. The group raised about four hundred dollars which was sent to the family this week.The family did not want to accept the money but through Khalid they understand that this is a gift from us. They are most appreciative. The dad in our family is working "underground" because he is not allowed to work legally. He works 12 hour shifts, seven days a week in a warehouse. He makes the equivalent of about 10-dollars Canadian a day which goes to their rent. They are barely scraping by. Their daughter was sick recently and they could not afford to go to a doctor. The family now understands that when there is an emergency, like a sick child, they should get in touch with us and we will help however we can. The family is worried about how much longer they have to wait for their application to be considered and we have told them we are doing everything we can to keep up awareness of their application. Despite the grim reality of their situation in Amman, there was also much joy and laughter during our skype chat. Their baby daughter is growing and looks healthy. She is now 17-months old and is a beautiful little girl. She was waving and blowing kisses during the skype chat. Khalid may be going to Amman to visit members of his wife's family who are also Iraqi refugees in Jordan. He will visit our family, and take them small gifts from us. He's hoping to travel on Oct. 31st. We are arranging to send a CD of children's lullabies (in English) so the baby can get used to the language. We will send a few items of winter clothing for the baby and also a CD on learning English for Arabic speakers. It was clear from Sunday's conversation that these skype chats go a long way in helping reassure the family they are not alone. We will plan monthly chats with them.
Thank you again for your ongoing generosity and support.
On Nov. 7, we received some good news about our refugee family in Amman, Jordan.
They have been contacted by the Canadian Embassy in Amman and will be interviewed by an official there on Tuesday Nov. 15th.
This is a significant step in the right direction. However, there is currently a backlog of refugees approved for travel to Canada. We should be prepared for the possibility that it will be several months yet before their arrival - assuming the interview goes well.
The federal government should be in contact with us once the interview is completed. Hopefully, they will tell us the family is approved for travel. In the unlikely event their application is denied, we will be given reasons.
If the family is approved, we will also be given a sense of how long it will take for them to be on a plane for Toronto.
Our settlement counsellor, Khalid, is in Amman and made contact with our family. He delivered a few gifts we sent with him. The family was contacted by the Embassy while Khalid was there. In fact, it was Khalid who told us about the interview!
Please keep this family in your prayers! And we will continue to keep you updated.
Thanks as always for your continued support.
The Holy Name Refugee Sponsorship group.
Our refugee family had their interview at the Canadian Embassy in Amman on Tuesday, November 15th. The interview went well – they have been approved! The next step is a medical check. It may be a while yet before they get here but at least they are one big step closer to getting on a plane for a new life in Toronto.