April, 2018 – The Shehk-Sleyman family arrived in Toronto
April, 2018 – The Family is on its way
Dear friends and supporters of the Shekh-Sleyman family,
The family of 7 is on its way and will arrive next Thursday! We are thrilled that our sponsorship application has been successful and are particularly thankful for the work of our medical friends who supported the need for this family to come to Canada as soon as possible so that the youngest child can receive necessary medical treatment. The application has been significantly expedited, as we are at the 6 month mark now, while the posted processing time for refugees from Lebanon is currently 19 months.
Rajab and Hanan, parents in the newcomer family which has been in Meaford for over two years now, have made plans move to Owen Sound in order to be closer to a mosques, ESL classes, and other Arabic speakers. With the help of friends in Meaford, we have found a most generous donor who will allow both families to live in a farmhouse just outside Owen Sound, rent free. The house is being renovated now in preparation for their arrival.
We are all happy – and relieved – at the prospect of seeing these two sisters united again, with both families safe. Many thanks again to all of you who have made this possible. We will once again be asking you to help us mobilise support for the family as they arrive in Canada. The long list of hurdles we need to help them navigate will be mitigated by the experience of the established family, who will doubtless be able to give them a lot of guidance. But there will be work for us to do too!
November, 2017 – Application Approved by Ottawa
Over the third hurdle! Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has approved our application to sponsor the the Shekh-Sleyman family to come to Canada. This means that they have reviewed the application and accepted both us and the Sponsorship Agreement Holder, the Huron Diocese. The application has already been passed on to the Canadian visa office in Beirut, who will process it and make the final decision whether to grant refugee status to the family and bring them to Canada. Within a few days of us receiving this notice, we heard that Mouhanad, the principal applicant, received an email from the Beirut visa office to make contact with the family. We hope that this is a good sign!
According to the IRCC website, the average processing time for refugee visas in the Lebanon visa office (which serves Syria too) is presently 17 months. As we explained in the last update, we have tried to expedite the process by making a case for the urgency of medical care for their youngest son. Thanks to the generous work of our friends at the Hospital for Sick Kids, Toronto General and Princess Margaret Hospitals, we were able to translate and prepare a brief dossier of his history and explain the medical need for access to treatment and monitoring, which is routinely available in Canada but not to the family in the Lebanon. We feel sure that this expedited processing in Ottawa; now we keep our fingers crossed that it will speed up the attention of the Beirut visa office too.
To recap the funding situation, thanks to the generous donations made by you and our friends in this group, we have raised $58,000 to support the family for their first year in Canada. This money is now being held in trust by the Christ Church Anglican, Meaford and awaits their arrival in Canada.
In the meantime, Hanan, now living with her family in Meaford, keeps in touch with her sister and family in Lebanon, with whom we hope they will reunited by this sponsorship. While you will know that the country’s government does not recognise refugee status and they are therefore in constant fear of deportation, we hear that they are all well. We have heard that they are delighted that the application is now being processed in Beirut and that they have received formal contact from the government.
We will continue to keep you updated with the application’s progress, and hope that it will not be too long before we can welcome this family to Canada.
Many thanks again, from the Meaford Refugee Welcome Group
April 27, 2017 – Application Submitted
Over the first hurdle! We have we have submitted our application to the Sponsorship Agreement Holder, the Diocese of Huron, and have raised more than the required funds for the application to go forward. Thank you all for your generous donations and your willingness to help a second refugee family come to the Meaford area.
The application itself is complicated and has been a challenge, chiefly due to the difficulty of communication with the family in Lebanon. But, thanks to Hanan, Rajab, and Alex (our wonderful, ever-available translator), we managed to obtain the information and documents needed for the application. Thanks are due especially to the donors who have reached out to their own circles, through whom we have raised more funds than those required for the application, and are well on our way to our next goal of $50,000. Now we await news from the Diocese about our application status….
Many thanks, again, from the Meaford Refugee Welcome Group
March 30th, 2017
Music Night in Kimberley
Our fundraiser to bring a second family to the Meaford area was held on Saturday March 18th at Kimberley Hall; have a look at this review: http://meafordlivemusic.com/?p=1763. Local Kimberley man and experienced music man, Jonathon, most kindly ‘handed over’ his Maplepalooza event, an annual event that celebrates the sugar shack and local music. Chris Sceri gathered an impressive line-up of musicians who kept the hall jumpin’ through the night; Hanan and Rajab prepared delicious Syrian appetizers; Noreen kept the bar going, Jonathon, Wendy from Kimberley Community Association, Stacie from Kimberley General Store, Cathy, Helen and Theresa from Meaford Refugee Welcome Group all donated more food so no-one went hungry! The local Kimberley community and beyond turned out in full force to fill this event with good cheer, and then turned into a cleaning crew when the lights went up.
Many, many thanks to all who came and enjoyed themselves, to those who volunteered their time, and to those who generously donated $$$, including an anonymous donor who matched the evening’s donations, to our cause: we are over $6000 closer to our goal!
On a more sombre note, this article, https://academic.oup.com/rsq/article/35/4/58/2609281/Precarity-in-Exile-The-Legal-Status-of-Syrian, from Refugee Survey Quarterly, describes the current situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The family we are planning to sponsor is caught in this situation, a situation that shows little sign of improving. As explained in the article, since 2015 the ability of Syrian refugees to gain legal status in Lebanon, and therefore work, education, health care, etc, has been drastically reduced. So we at Meaford Refugee Welcome Group thank you again for your ongoing interest in and support of this cause of helping another family reach a safe haven in the Meaford area.
December 10th, 2016
Welcome to the Meaford Refugee Welcome Group’s website.
We’re thrilled to announce that a further effort has begun to bring a second family from Syria to Canada.
A Syrian family of 6 people (two parents, with four children aged 3 to 10) arrived in Meaford in February, 2016. The children are enrolled in local schools and have enjoyed various summer camps. The parents are attending English language classes, and are working to establish a specialty food business. The family is doing very well.
Our new effort is to bring part of their extended family to our area.
For the first family, we benefited from financial help from the federal government, but this is not available for new sponsorships, and the number of new sponsorships is limited.
Through the Huron Diocese – the formal sponsors of the first family – we expect to be able to apply to sponsor a further family. For this application, due in March, 2017, the government requires that we raise a minimum of $32,000. If you would like to help us reach this new target, please donate now.