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

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.

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

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,}. 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; 

(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