UNHCR and IOM Update: We have just learned that UNHCR (the United Nations Refugee Agency) and IOM (International Organization for Migration) will resume refugee resettlement and travel arrangements! There will be refugee resettlement flights to Canada from Indonesia and Malaysia in July 2020. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions on flights out of Jordan, the family’s flight remains on hold. The family have all been approved as Permanent Residents and will be contacted as soon as safe travel arrangements can be made through IOM and IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada). We hope to have news soon on their new arrival date! The family remains healthy and well as they prepare to leave Jordan and re-unite with loved ones in Guelph.
In the meantime, please stay informed and connected. Over 6.6 million people are displaced within Syria and throughout the world – this is almost half of the pre-war population of Syria. The majority of refugees (5.5 million people) are in neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. COVID-19 and economic crises mean host countries are struggling maintain support for refugees. You can learn about the impacts of COVID-19 for refugees and Refugees Making a Difference during the Time of COVID-19 throughout the world by following UNHCR’s latest updates.
At the same time, nearly 1 million people (80% women and children) within Syria have been forced further northwest through ongoing attacks by Syrian and/or Russian government forces, including documented targeted strikes on schools, hospitals and critical infrastructure. You can read the latest Amnesty International report: ‘Nowhere is Safe for Us’ to better understand the ongoing internal displacement and humanitarian crisis in Syria.
We continue to remain in contact with the family, fundraise and prepare for their arrival. If you would like to support this work, please see our How You Can Help section.
We hope you stay healthy and well. Thank you for all your support!
We had a flurry of activity when we learned that the family would be arriving in Guelph on March 25, 2020. As you can all imagine, all refugee settlement has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have received regular updates from the family that they are healthy and well during this challenging time of continued waiting. We understand that we will be contacted by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) when it is safe for the family to leave Jordan and travel to Canada.
We continue to fundraise and will need support to find a 3-bedroom apartment or townhouse once the family is approved to travel. If you would like to offer support to Bridge to Guelph, please see our How You Can Help page.
Thank you to everyone for all your help and support throughout this journey!
Bridge to Guelph is so happy to announce that the family has been approved to come to Guelph!!! We received an arrival date of March 25, 2020. This is now postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic plans of the Government of Canada that limits international travel. We hope to have an update soon.
In the meantime, we have been hard at work finding housing, fund-raising and acquiring donations. We have been lucky enough to secure an apartment near family and friends. People in our community have been generously donating new and gently used items. And we continue to fundraise to support all the resettlement needs of the family for the first year.
Please see our How You Can Help section to find out more.
Thank you for all your ongoing support! We hope you stay healthy and well through these strange times.
It has been a while since our last post, and we wanted to update everyone on the application process. Once we were approved as sponsors by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), it was a 23 month wait for the application to be processed in Jordan. But great news!!! The family Bridge to Guelph has been working with had their interview in Amman, Jordan on October 6, 2019. It was a flurry of excitement and preparation to complete new forms, get documents in order and make travel arrangements to the capital city. Both parents and all 5 children attended the interview and are feeling positive about it.
What happens now?
- Waiting for the decision: The family’s interview information will be reviewed at the Visa office in Jordan. If they are approved, the next steps will be Medical, Security and Criminality Checks. Once they make it to this stage, it could be weeks before they arrive!
- Fundraising: Would you consider making a 2019 donation to Bridge to Guelph? If you would like to be involved in fundraising or have some great ideas to share, please connect with us!
- Housing: When the family arrives, we will need to find housing very quickly. Do you know of an affordable 3-bedroom apartment or house? Please let us know!
If you have questions or would like to get involved, please contact us!
It’s been just over two years since our first sponsor family arrived in Guelph, and we’ve received the good news from the government that we can apply to sponsor another refugee family this year!
For a long time now, the family who came over in 2016 have been worried about a sister and her kids who fled Syria and are stuck in Jordan. We’re so happy that we can apply to bring them to Guelph as well, and look forward to bringing these families back together.
We hope to have the money in the bank by the end of May and the application in the mail by mid-June. We’re just over a quarter of the way to our $40 000 goal. If you’d like to contribute please see the How You Can Help section.
We’re thrilled to be embarking on the next leg of this journey!
It’s been a busy three weeks for us at Bridge to Guelph, having welcomed our family to Guelph in the wee hours of the morning on March 1st.
Today the family moved into their permanent apartment and are so very happy and thankful to everyone who helped make the move possible. We have to thank Susan and Greg for so graciously hosting them in their temporary accommodations and helping to make them feel welcome. Through their stay, the kids were able to make some new friends, share a few meals (trying pancakes and maple syrup for the first time), and even got initiated into tobogganing culture very early on in their arrival – they quite loved it!
It’s been a busy few weeks for the family… a flurry of potlucks, meeting group members (only just now realizing how large our group is), meeting and making friends with other newcomers, getting oriented to how things get done around here, appointments, and taking time to visit some sights in and around Guelph. There’s a lot going on for them and at times it’s been quite overwhelming with the amount of information they’re taking in – we’re so grateful for our trusty translator friends who have been so generous with their time to help us communicate the important details.
The girls are very excited for their first day of school tomorrow. We’re all looking forward to seeing them get settled into their new place and life here. It seems like the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity so settling into a routine will be most welcome.
We’ll do our best to keep you up-to-date here. So many of you have offered your positive thoughts and best wishes to the family and we know you’re excited to hear more about how things are going. And we know… you want photos! However, those are going to have to wait as we’ve not gotten to the point where we’ve been able to ask about sharing details like that with the whole, wide world. You’ll just have to take our word for it when we say the kids are super-duper adorable 😉
Again, our thanks to all of you who are sending emails to check in and reaching out to offer help. It’s great to see people coming together to welcome our new friends to Guelph!
We have been waiting for this date for months now – the time has finally come! The family is arriving in Montreal this weekend and will be in Guelph shortly thereafter. We have kicked our preparations into high gear!
If you’re still looking for a way to support us, we have a few items left on our in-kind donation list that will go a long way to making the family feel at home in Guelph.
Thanks to all of you for your support, it’s been amazing!
Ishra & Invoketress Dance held a performance fundraiser and donated all the funds raised to the family Bridge to Guelph is sponsoring. Thank you to all the dancers and generous patrons for this gift, they raised $907 for the family!
A huge thanks goes out to the John McCrae Public School community for generously purchasing candy cane grams by the hundreds in December! The Social Justice Club’s Candy Cane Fundraiser raised 665$ to help support a Syrian Refugee family starting a new life here in Guelph. Evan Stewart, a member of the Social Justice Club, presented Bridge to Guelph refugee sponsorship group representative Heather Callum with a cheque on Monday, January 18th.
The money raised by students at John McCrae will help Bridge to Guelph support the basic needs of a Syrian family of five over their first year in Guelph. The students had a chance to ask questions about the family and think about how they might like their funds to be used. Backpacks? Furniture? Food? Toys? Clothing? So many options for their money to be put to good use.
Thank you John McCrae Public School for your hard work and wonderful support!
How we got our son to feel like a full member of our sponsorship group
Blog post by Marie Dixon-McCoy, Bridge to Guelph group member
Making the decision to try to find something to do to help refugees abroad was easy. I had been thinking about it for over a year. After the drowning of Aylan Kurdi, the awareness of what people were fleeing and the urgency to help led to a ground swell of empathy and action. So when I put out on Facebook in September I couldn’t stand by any longer, my friend Laura messaged me and asked if I wanted to join a group she was joining. I said yes even before talking to my spouse. I knew she would be on board. But we held a family meeting anyway mostly to introduce the idea to our then eight year old son and get him invested. He said yes, of course we should help in any way we could.
After bringing our son to a couple of meetings which he sat through very patiently and very quietly I soon realized, he didn’t have a role. We were all talking about going away and doing things. We all began to gather jobs, roles and more meetings. But Rowan had no role. We talked a lot about his involvement and his understanding. We talked about the upcoming election and our fears if the Conservatives got re-elected how much more difficult and lengthy it would be to get a refugee family here. I hoped that maybe he would just act as a youth ambassador with his friends. Keeping them up to date on the news of refugees. Sharing his thoughts on the how bad it would be if the Conservatives got elected. What was I thinking?? Eight year olds don’t normally just start talking about world politics and the election! More creativity was needed.
After being put on the spot by his teacher one day, I had my Eureka moment! She randomly wanted to hear Rowan play guitar with a badly tuned, too big guitar with no pick. It went horribly for him. He felt embarrassed and defeated. Well I knew how to bandage this hurt. A fundraising concert at his school with his band! He wanted to redeem himself with his peers and prove he really could play Heart of Gold and Satisfaction. His teacher wanted to make it up to him and surprisingly but also heart-warmingly LOVED the idea of being able to highlight the struggles of refugees with her students in a constructive way. She said she wanted the whole school to commit to doing some educational sections on the issues of refugees and invite the whole school to come to the concert. Fantastic! Since this was two days before the school took their winter break I had time to speak Rowan’s music teacher and the parents of the kids in his band.
I’m still working on getting the concert together but everyone so far has been enthusiastic and positive. I just have to get the school to give us a date. In the meanwhile, the band has perfected One Way or Another and are working on adding Free Falling. This concert is going to be awesome!
What has been exciting to see is that planning for this concert has given Rowan a platform to talk about refugees in general and the family we’re sponsoring specifically. He is able to say how the money he will help raise will help them. He then can talk about how challenging the transition will be for the family and especially the kids. He wonders what the kids will be like and if they will be friends. He wonders what music they will like.
I want Rowan to be aware of what is happening in the world. I want him to see his privilege. I want him to see that no matter what his age he has a part to play in making things better. We all have a part to play.