Refugee

http://brothers.paladin-bs.com

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October 25, 2020 – Coming Soon, December 10,  2020
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It is nearly five years since the Brother’s Keeper sponsorship group was formed as a collective effort of several churches – Central Christian Church, Cornwall Christian Church, New Glasgow Christian Church, Sherwood Christian Church, and “The Kirk” of St. James Presbyterian Church, with additional financial assistance from Murray Harbour Church of Christ and South Lake Christian Church.

Our first family arrived April 25, 2018. Joseph and Basma Toma and their four sons fled from Mosul, Iraq, just before the invasion of ISIS, and lived as refugees in Beirut, Lebanon. Our second family, George Nakhleh, his wife Daisy Hamwi, and their two children, fled from the war around Damascus, Syria, to seek refuge in Lebanon. We welcomed them on March 1, 2019 to Prince Edward Island. Both families have settled wonderfully into our country.

Early last year, the Brother’s Keeper group agreed to help our third refugee family, who are related to our first family. In June 2019, we applied to sponsor Basma’s widowed sister, Ibtisam Toma, and Haneen Alnas, her seventeen-year-old daughter. They had also fled from Mosul, Iraq, and settled as refugees in Jordan. An older daughter, Raneen is also there, and awaiting permission to join her husband, who lives near Detroit, Michigan.

On January 29, 2020, Ibtisam had an interview at the Canadian Embassy in Amman, Jordan, and received preliminary approval for them to come to Canada. Then, the COVID-19 epidemic hit, which temporarily halted all refugee sponsorships and travel arrangements.

On October 6, 2020, we received an email from Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) asking us to confirm if all wanted to proceed with the planned sponsorship. Ibtisam and Haneen affirmed they were excited to come, and we happily confirmed plans to welcome them.

On Thursday, October 22nd, we heard that they received their travel arrangements. They are scheduled to leave Jordan on December 9th, and arrive here on December 10th, where they will be picked up by a special taxi and transported to a facility for their two weeks of COVID isolation. They should be out in time to spend Christmas with Joseph and Basma and their family!

 

We are now searching for a small two-bedroom apartment, to be ready for them by January 1st. Let us know if you have leads on any reasonable priced units, or if you have furnishings of supplies to help equip their new home. Inflation caused by COVID-19 and the low vacancy rates has significantly impacted what we can expect to pay for rent and living expenses.

Besides the increased cost of living, they must pay a residency fee to the government of Jordan before they leave, and they also have some special medical and dental expenses. We have a little over $20,000 funds on hand but expect we will need $10,000 more for additional expenses.

Here is how you can help.

  1. Offer a prayer of thanksgiving for God bringing this about, a request for His further provision of the remaining funds and pray for the family’s safe arrival.
  2. Help provide the remaining furnishings for the family. We have most of the major items needed but still need many additional items. We will be sending out a list of the specific needs and hope each church can outfit one apartment room. Please contact Eileen Tanner to help.
  3. Help with fundraising the remaining $10,000 needed. We are hoping each church will commit to raising a portion of these funds. We have already received $2,000 from one congregation, so we are well on our way to meeting the goal. You might want to host a fundraiser or a special Christmas offering for the new family. There is no time pressure on this, as we have funds to cover the first eight months of sponsorship. Do this when it works best for your congregation. Contact Callum by email or phone to let him know your plans. Send all cheques payable to Central Christian Church Attention: Brother’s Keeper Refugee Fund.
  4. Contact Paul Stevenson with any leads on a reasonably priced two-bedroom apartment. We need accommodations ready for them by January 1st.

Furnishings: Eileen Tanner 902-894-4348

Apartment Search: Paul Stevenson 902-388-6255                              pdstevenson.pei@gmail.com

Inquiries: Callum Beck 902-213-5212

Financial Contributions: 902-894-5234

Mail Address: 167 Hillsborough Street, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4W8

Thank you for your continued help for these families, and for allowing God to use you in being a special blessing to them.

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July 20, 2020 Family Updates – Part 3
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Hello faithful ones … here is the last of three family updates on the refugee families that we are supporting in one way or another. Please continue to keep them all in your prayers as we continue to try to navigate through the turmoils of this mortal coil… this update is from Paul Stevenson. Pray a blessing on him as well as he continues to be directly involved with this family.

Ibtisam and Haneen – International Immigration Interruption caused by COVID-19

Following the announcement of the Prime Minister on March 16, 2020, in response to COVID-19, travel to Canada has been restricted, allowing entry only to Canadian citizens and permanent residents, with certain exceptions. Exceptions include privately-sponsored refugees (PSR), who were already in possession of permanent resident visas for Canada at the time travel restriction measures were imposed. Ibtisam and Haneen were waiting to receive these just before the pandemic shut-down. All PSR cases booked for arrival in March and April by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), have been cancelled and remain as such until further notice. It is not known at this time when travel to Canada will resume. The ability to travel to Canada ultimately relies on various factors, including, but not limited to:

  • Capacity of the IOM to facilitate travel and pre-departure medical services;
  • Availability of flights;
  • Conditions in the refugee’s country of residence/asylum;
  • Ability of foreign governments to issue exit permits; and
  • The sponsor and refugee’s mutual interest to proceed with travel to Canada at this time, in light of the COVID-19 situation.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is actively working with various partners to plan travel where possible, and for the eventual resumption of refugee arrivals. The Resettlement Operations Center – Ottawa (ROC-O) will contact sponsors directly by email when refugees sponsored may be able to travel to Canada. Sponsors will be requested to clearly confirm ability to still receive and support them. If refugees are able to travel, there will be additional requirements with which we will be asked to comply. Upon arrival, as with all international travelers, they will be asked to adhere to guidelines on self-isolation and COVID-19, as defined by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
Currently, international flights into Canada are restricted to only a few airports. The closest at this time is Montréal. We are uncertain of what–if any–arrangements are being made for isolation of Refugees upon arrival or for special permission for transit to PEI, and if additional costs will be paid by IRCC or will be the responsibility of sponsors.
Once travel to Canada resumes, IRCC will contact all sponsors to ensure they are able to welcome the sponsored newcomers, provide support in accordance with the program requirements, and can facilitate or assist the newcomers with self-quarantining on arrival. The sponsored refugees will also be contacted to confirm their willingness to travel amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. IRCC acknowledges the significant impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the refugee sponsorship community. Refugee sponsors have an important role to play in ensuring that sponsored refugees continue to receive the standard levels of support while taking into account COVID-19 specific guidelines created by governments at all levels.
IRCC have produced a document intended to assist sponsors in understanding how cases in process are affected by COVID-19 and, for refugees already in Canada, how sponsors can continue to fulfill their sponsorship role while also addressing the unique settlement needs of sponsored refugees during this difficult time.
Editor: As we await further news and direction from government please keep Ibtisam and Haneen in your prayers and lift up the families that we currently have in Canada as well. We are so blessed to have them here that we can support them as we “entertain these angels…” – Hebrews 13:2
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Thanks & God Bless
Brother’s Keeper Website Admin

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June 24, 2020 – Family Updates – Part 2
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Hello faithful ones … here is the second of three family updates on the refugee families that we are supporting in one way or another. Please continue to keep them all in your prayers as we continue to try to navigate through the turmoils of this mortal coil… this update is from Eileen Tanner. Pray a blessing on her as well as she continues to be directly involved with helping the Nakhleh family. Please share this news with your church families or anyone else that has an interest. I Corinthians 15:58

Nakhleh Family latest life events.

On a positive note, George and Daisy passed to another level of English. Daisy to Level 6 and George to Level 7. When you visit, the children both speak English and Daisy said this is their main language at home speaking to each other.

George’s mom had serious surgery a few weeks ago and suffered a serious stroke after that. She is home on oxygen. Medications are hard to get, although George recently had some sent from a friend in Lebanon.

Inflation is very high. A year ago, one dollar would exchange to 500 in Syrian currency. Today it is 3000 or more. Everything is very expensive and George and Daisy are very concerned about their families.

George has been looking for work. He has had 2 interviews, but no job offer yet.

Covid 19 has delayed George’s opportunity to take the first pharmacy exam, which should have been this month.

They are very thankful to be safe in Canada.

— update —

The family is still looking to move to another location that has better living arrangements, they have a good lead on a duplex on Maplewood crescent so please add this situation to your prayers.
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You may view the latest post at http://brothers.paladin-bs.com/family-update-2/
You received this e-mail because you asked to be notified when new updates are posted.
Thanks & God Bless
Brother’s Keeper Website Admin

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June 9/2020 – Family Updates – Part 1
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Hello faithful ones … here is one of three upcoming family updates on the refugee families that we are supporting in one way or another. Please continue to keep them all in your prayers as we continue to try to navigate through the turmoils of this mortal coil… this update is from Maha Ghiz. Pray a blessing on the Ghiz family as well as they continue to be very directly involved with helping the Toma family. Please share this news with your church families or anyone else that has an interest. I Corinthians 15:58

Toma Family latest life events.

HOUSING SITUATION

  • Mike contacted Habitat (returned to offices on June 2nd.) to follow up on the Tomas application status. Tammy told Mike that they haven’t officially finalized the application, but they are considered accepted, but they won’t be able to receive a house before summer 2022. After discussion with Joseph, the Toma family would rather opt out of the Habitat offer, two years is too long to wait for a house for them.
  • Last week Joseph and Mike went out to check a few houses and they came across a piece of land in a new residential area just behind Faith Bible church and Joseph accepted the offer from the land owner and put a down payment of $1000 on the land! Legal processing with the law firm is underway. Joseph is planning on starting with the excavations soon! I asked him what is it that he would like to inform his churches about? He said that he would greatly appreciate help with two things: Translation & some professional help and advice in construction. So we wonder whether NCA is able to provide some assistance with translation? We will have to inquire.

HEALTH  ISSUES

  • Basma was supposed to get an eye laser surgery on her right eye sometime back in January or February, by Dr. DArrel Lewis in Halifax, as promised. 6 months had already passed in addition to the unjustified one year delay, since Basma first met Dr. Lewis! I contacted the clinic and the secretary, Nicole was quite apologetic and said that Basma is high on the list and as soon as the Laser clinic is open, (unknown date) they will notify us.
  • I contacted Dr. Bosell as well and got an appointment for Basma because she is gradually losing sight in her right eye and she is relying on her left eye that has a cornea transplant that needs replacement. Apt. is on Tuesday June 9th.
  • As well, back in March blood tests showed that Basma is anemic , but Basma only found out about it last week. The nurse at Chances had requested a new blood test.
  •  Joseph is undergoing some blood tests, but I did not inquire about the results.
  • Thomas had a trampoline accident and I had to take him to the emergency, but he bounced back quickly, praise God.

SCHOOLING

  • Peter is receiving some worksheets from the school from time to time, but Thomas is receiving none.
  • We have a meeting with EAL teacher on Tuesday June 9th, for Peter.

WORK & PLAY

  • Joseph and Odiss never stopped working with Mr. Plumber, as well as at Sam’s for Odiss.
  • Andre went with Mike last week to reapply for a job at Superstore. He is hopefully waiting.
  • No news from the farm so far for Basma and Andre.
  • Andre has resumed his football practice.

OTHER NEWS

  • The Arabic Group Bible study on Wednesdays resumed via Zoom meetings. But the last two weeks we started receiving some friends over our house. Joseph already came twice. Last week, Thomas and Peter joined him. We were quite surprised with the depth of Thomas’s prayer. Praise the Lord.
  • Last month, the Toams celebrated Andre’s 19th B.D and the couple’s 23rd wedding anniversary. Mike and I were able to join them on both occasions.
  • On Friday June 5th, we resumed our Women’s Bible study and Basma was able to join us along with 5 other women.
  • Lastly, yesterday, Basma took courage and drove Odiss’s car for the first time for half an hour. That was a great breakthrough! Praise the Lord.

This is what comes to mind so far.  Thank  you again for your love and support for the last 4 years and making a difference in the lives of the Toma family.
In His grace and peace,
Maha & Mike Ghiz

REFUGEE SPONSORSHIP UPDATE – 2020 03-01
One year ago we first met George, Daisy, Mark and Lulu. It was so exciting to see them arrive on our little Island and so great to get to know them since then. Their main focus this year has been getting settled into Canada, studying English, doing a course on being a health worker in Canada, and getting prepared to study for their Canadian Pharmacy exams. As part of this, George has been shadowing a local pharmacist once a week for the last five months. Our financial commitment to them ended on Feb 29, 2020, but the refugee sponsorship team made the decision to walk beside them past our required one year commitment, in order to help them attain their educational and career goals. Beginning in March they will be receiving government assistance for their basic living expenses, but we will be subsidizing their higher educational expenses until December 2020, primarily through the generous financial assistance of our sponsorship partners, St James Presbyterian Church and Sherwood Christian Church. George & Daisy want to express to the congregation and the refugee sponsorship team their deep gratitude for our love and support for them this past year. Do continue to pray for them. Also keep Basma’s sister Ibtisam, and her daughter Haneen, in your prayers. The sponsorship is proceeding rapidly and we expect them to arrive no later than this summer.

2019-06-18- George, Daisy, Mark and Lutchina are settling in wonderfully in their new home. They have made their apartment their own: hanging up their own pictures, changing curtains, and even switching their bedrooms (now Mark and Lulu have the larger room with more space to play with their toys).
George has been attending English language training at Holland College and is really enjoying it. He plans to continue going through the summer session but is also looking for some part-time work. Daisy is studying English by herself at home, while she cares for the children. In September she will be doing English classes full-time. She has been helping the children learn English, and teaching them music on a keyboard they gratefully received. Mark is registered to begin at Spring Park School in September, and Lulu will be starting in the UPEI Campus Kids pre-kindergarten program.
The family were fortunate to find a great dentist and have started treatments. They are still in need of a doctor, but are in good health.
George takes the City Transit bus or walks to his ESL classes. They also have walked around the city with the children in a double stroller, and the kids now have bicycles and are learning to ride. For bigger trips, many people have volunteered to drive. Most Sunday mornings, Joseph Toma or Eileen Tanner have picked them up, and Eileen loaned them her car for a week, which they really appreciated. They hope to purchase a used car by the end of June with a personal family loan.
Recently, George and Daisy met with Ray Murphy of Murphy’s Pharmacies and they are beginning to shadow some of his pharmacists to learn more about the Canadian system. They also have begun studying so they can attain their Canadian equivalency in Pharmacy.
The family are fast becoming a big part of our church family here at Central and also our Wednesday night Arabic gatherings led by Mike and Maha Ghiz. Mark and Lulu love their Sunday School classes and Wednesday night group.
They wrote: “Please add a big thank you for each person who helps us: Callum, Lorraine, Paul, Tim, David, Dan, Ken, Debi, Joseph and Philip … and everyone. And a big thank you to Eileen because she picks us up every Sunday to the church in her car and helps Daisy to learn English… And big thanks to Mike and Maha Ghiz because they pick up us to the church each Wednesday. We hope (Daisy and I) to find a job ASAP.” As you can tell, their English is not perfect yet but they are doing amazingly well with it and improving each day.
They welcome the opportunity to meet visitors. Their address is 40 Cooper Ave, #6, and George’s phone number is 902-916-4006. If you have not met them yet make sure you say hello. Pray for them as they continue to adjust to life in Canada.
– Paul Stevenson and Callum Beck

OUR REFUGEE FAMILY HAS ARRIVED 2019-03-01
Last night, about 12:30am, George Nakhleh, Daisy Hawmi and their two children  Mark and Lulu, made a cold walk from the plane to a warm welcome of about 20 people inside the Charlottetown airport. They were so pleased and thankful to see their new home, though we are not sure little Lulu saw anything at all and is likely just waking up now.  Needless to say they were all exhausted.
Yesterday we had a big crew to move their furnishings in and set up the apartment.  Unfortunately the kitchen counter was still not installed, but we hope it will be put in today.
We give thanks to all who helped make this day a reality and above all to our powerful God who made it all happen.
Do not forget the service of praise and thanksgiving this Sunday at 10:45 and the pot luck welcome party for our new family following the church service.
Callum

20181230-Joseph Testimony + song

2018 12 09 – Refugee Sponsorship

GREAT NEWS ABOUT OUR REFUGEE FAMILY We thank our God that the Nakhleh family (George, Daisy, Mark, Lutchina) have been accepted as refugees and will soon be coming to Canada. Their medical & security checks are already done. It is possible they may be here as early as January or February. The Nakhleh’s thank you for your prayers and have asked us to keep on praying.

Update: Oct 31, 2018
George & family have another meeting with the Canadian Embassy on Nov 3.

Update – October 7, 2018
GOOD NEWS FOR GEORGE & DAISY, MARK & LUTCHINA

Some of you may recall that we encountered problems with sponsorship of our second family, from Syria.  They were invited to the Canadian Embassy in Beirut for an interview on March 20th. George had been living in Lebanon, while Daisy and the kids were denied entry beforehand. The Immigration Officer treated them unjustly, unfairly assessed their case, and denied their application on Friday, March 23rd. Daisy and the children were forced to return to live with her parents in a war-torn region near Damascus, Syria.

We had a short time to choose to oppose the decision, or abandon the application and all our efforts and start anew with another application and possibly another family. Our Refugee sponsorship committee agreed to contest the decision.

We contacted an immigration lawyer, recommended by our contacts with RSTP [Refugee Sponsorship Traning Program].  Leigh Salsberg of Toronto prepared to represent the case. On July 31st, she filed the 191-page Application of Record setting out the facts of the legitimacy of the application, and their eligibility for protection as Syrian convention refugees, as offered by the Canadian government.  On August 29th, Department of Justice officials representing IRCC [Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada] offered to settle the case out of court. Originally they were not willing to commit to an expedited timeline adjustment. We pushed and they agreed to give priority due to fact their errors caused considerable delay putting the file behind others received at the same time.  We can be thankful for Leigh: she put a lot of work into it, did a thorough job and was fully prepared to challenge the denial decision in court on our behalf. We were favourably billed at a lower rate similar to Ontario legal aid clients {our cost was just short of $5,000.total}. We may need to raise some funds to help cover this added expense.

On Monday, October 1st, we received official word from our lawyer: the copy registered October 1, 2018 in Federal Court of a motion in writing on behalf of the respondendent {Dept of Justice lawyers representing IRCC}  “for an order setting aside the decision of Immigration Officer of Visa Office in Beirut, Lebanon, dated March 23, 2018 refusing the Applicants’ application for permanent residence in Canada as members of the Convention Refugee Abroad class or as members of the Humanitarian-protected persons abroad designated class; 

THIS COURT ORDERS that 
(a) The decisoin of an Immigration Officer … in Beirut, Lebanon, dated March 23, 2018, … is set aside.  
(b) The matter is remitted to a different officer for redetermination on a priority basis.”
So, the file goes back to the embassy in Beirut now.  Leigh said they will likely ask for updated forms, possibly also for updated documentation and possibly another interview.  She suggested if we find delays in hearing from the embassy to get our MP to follow up.. For now, we wait.

The whole family finally escaped Syria and are now living in Lebanon. Communication is poor and sporadic. I emailed the court ruling to them but I haven’t yet had response to indicate they received it.
PRAY: for them and patience, for the process and a just official, and that if God wills, they are given a chance to start a new life here in Charlottetown by early next year.

 

Update – Friday, Aug 10

Daisy sent an email on Wednesday, August 8th —the first message I received since July 20th. She is now with the family in Lebanon. She crossed the border and entered [illegally] on Saturday, August 4th. She said the way was terrible, she was exhausted, and the last week was very difficult for her; but now she is happy to be together with her family.

The other good news is that on Monday, August 6th, they had an appointment with the UNHCR [United Nations High Commission for Refugees] and the family is now registered with a UNHCR file number.

The internet connection isn’t good in the area where they are….but George was able to send another message with a picture of the family from his new phone using WhatsApp. He is giving a lot of thanks.

We’re waiting to hear word concerning the court case. The lawyer representing us and the family filed the Application of Record in Toronto federal court on July 31st with supporting arguments and facts for the Application for Leave and for Judicial Review, filed on May 22, 2018.

Lawyers for federal Department of Justice have one month in which to respond to the challenge. We will have to wait patiently to see the outcome and whether or not IRCC opposes the motion to dismiss the ruling against the Nakhleh family. In the meantime we ask everyone to pray for George, Daisy, Mark and Lulu.

I received this picture later from George. He’s a very happy man to have Daisy join them in Lebanon.

Paul Stevenson

Announcement re Challenge of Nakleh Decision – 2018-07-20