Our mission is to help refugees move…

                                 from homelessness to a new home

                                            from persecution to security

                                              from danger to safety in community

HELP NEEDED FOR NEW REFUGEE FAMILY

The Refugee Sponsorship Team is looking for volunteers to help settle the Afghan family we are awaiting.  Their arrival date is uncertain but it would be great to know we have people ready to assist them.  If you are interested, please contact Linda or Arthur Herold – 705-536-0035.

REFUGEE SPONSORSHIP UPDATE, MAY 2017

This month marks the official end of our yearlong financial commitment to Alieu, UFP’s first newcomer under the Refugee Sponsorship Committee.   It has been a year of learning for the committee, the settlement volunteers and especially for Alieu.

Alieu now has two jobs, working in the field he loves best, the preparation of food from raw ingredients.  He was given a great start at the Irwin Inn last summer, and, after a semester of English upgrading at Fleming, has landed at The Magic Rolling Pin and the Riverside Grill at Holiday Inn.  Alieu has the opportunity to spend another semester on scholarship at Fleming this fall, but hasn’t yet made that big decision.  This year Alieu has progressed from setting up his very first bank account to paying bills on-line, making deposits by phone, and signing his apartment lease.  Because special donations this year have taken care of his extensive dental work, and repaid his travel / medical loan to the Canadian government, Alieu is confident about his imminent financial independence.

Throughout the year, Alieu has received support, assistance and practical help by teams of volunteers from our congregation.  Manuals and documents from the federal government, the CUC and the New Canadian Centre, Peterborough’s settlement agency, provided essential guidance as the year progressed and various issues unfolded.  Being connected with other UU congregations and other Peterborough groups settling refugees was very helpful.  In addition, many members and friends of UFP have been working with other refugee groups in town, and may bring their new skills and understandings to help with UFP’s next refugee family.

We are very happy that Alieu will stay in Peterborough beyond the settlement year as he has made his way into the hearts and lives of many friends and supporters both locally and in Toronto.  He will have an opportunity to speak to the UFP congregation on May 28, just as he did last year on his first Sunday in Canada.  You will be impressed by this articulate, warm and confident young man.

At last there has been encouraging news about the family in Islamabad that we have applied to co-sponsor with family members already here.   This family of four, two sisters and their two children fled Afghanistan in the fall of 2015, facing persecution for their work on women’s rights, education and democracy.  Just a few days ago the family attended their eligibility and admissibility interview at the office of the High Commission of Canada in Islamabad.  The sisters were relieved and excited to report that the interview went well and they expect the next step in processing to be underway soon.  The young people in the family are looking forward to going to school & we hope to be able to welcome them to Peterborough soon.   Our committee will be reviewing our budget for a year of financial support of the family, as updating from the 2015 numbers will probably be required.   We  look forward to the support and participation of the congregation with the new arrivals, as we continue to grow UFP’s new mission and ministry.

We are grateful for all donations, either by cheque to the Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough with Refugee Sponsorship on the memo line, or through the UFP website peterboroughunitarian.ca.  (Choose Faith in Action, and then click on Refugee Sponsorship Fund and the Donate Now button.)  All funds will be used for refugee settlement, either the Afghani family we are awaiting, or the next sponsorship we undertake.

 

REFUGEE SPONSORSHIP UPDATE, FEBRUARY 2017

We are so pleased to let you know that Alieu, our first newcomer, has just begun working full-time in Peterborough. Food preparation is his forte and his passion so employment at The Magic Rolling Pin is a great fit. You may recall that Alieu had been attending Fleming College in the fall on a two-semester scholarship. Over the December break he made a big decision – to postpone the second semester in favour of working and saving, in order to support himself when our financial support ends. A number of volunteers have worked with Alieu on his job search with resume writing, letters of application, identifying openings and going place-to-place so that potential employers could meet him face-to-face. Success was achieved with two job offers in January!

Alieu is continuing with tutoring on his English skills by our volunteers, and is nearly finished with his dental appointments. Because we had not budgeted for such extensive dental care, Alieu’s beautiful smile has been made possible by generous donations. He has also received a newer lap-top and a television. Alieu celebrated his 25th birthday with volunteers and guests in January at a pot-luck dinner followed by (vigorous!) dancing. Alieu enjoys spending time with friends from Toronto and our settlement volunteers. He readily accepts dinner invitations and is a delightful guest. (Hint!) Though our financial support for Alieu will end in May 2017, he has secured a special place in our community for ongoing friendship, social support and guidance.

We continue to anxiously await news of our next refugee family. We have applied to co-sponsor, with family members already here, an Afghani family of four, two sisters and their two children. The application is still working its way through the refugee system. It is difficult to be patient as we learn about the daily risks this women-led family faces. With the assistance of the CUC and an application for urgent status, we hope to hear good news very soon.

Many thanks to the Wednesday evening Women’s Covenant Group for raising more than $800 toward refugee sponsorship at their Bling & Bliss sale at UFP. We are grateful for all donations, either by cheque to the Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough with Refugee Sponsorship on the memo line, or through the UFP website. (Choose Faith in Action, and then click on Refugee Sponsorship Fund and the Donate Now button.) All funds will be used for refugee settlement, either the Afghani family we are awaiting, or the next sponsorship we undertake.

REFUGEE SPONSORSHIP UPDATE, DECEMBER 2016

As with a number of other local support groups, we are still waiting to learn when our next newcomer family will be arriving in Peterborough.  We have applied to co-sponsor an Afghani family of four, two sisters and their two children.  Despite the skillful assistance of an Ottawa immigration lawyer and the Canadian Unitarian Council, the application is still working its way through the refugee system.  Family members already in Canada are increasingly concerned about the safety of their loved ones as the weeks pass.  We had hoped to welcome these newcomers before the end of the year, but this will not be so.

Our first newcomer continues to settle into his new life in Peterborough.  Alieu’s apartment is working out well for him, particularly in that he is the master of his own kitchen.  Alieu also enjoys spending time with our settlement volunteers and newcomer friends in Toronto.  He is attending Fleming College, full-time, in the English as a Second Language Bridge Program.  He is on a full scholarship which will continue for the winter semester, and receives extra tutoring several times each week.  If you have a reasonably up-to-date laptop to donate, Alieu would find it very useful for both his schooling and job search.  Our financial support for Alieu will end in May 2017, though connections for social support and friendship will continue.  We are very aware of the need for Alieu to become financially self-supporting over the next six months.  He has been looking for part-time work, after school / weekends, in the food or hospitality field.  Any leads or connections you may have would be appreciated!

We are grateful for all donations.  Gifts may be made through the UFP website peterboroughunitarian.ca.  (Choose Faith in Action, and then click on Refugee Sponsorship Fund and the Donate Now button.)  Donations may also be made by cheque to the Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough with Refugee Sponsorship on the memo line.  Gifts received by December 31 will receive a charitable receipt for the 2016 tax year.  All funds will be used for refugee settlement, either the Afghani family we are awaiting, or the next sponsorship we undertake.

Refugee Sponsorship Update, October 2016

Our first sponsored newcomer continues to settle into his new community here. After a busy summer that included working at a nearby holiday resort, trying out boating and swimming, visiting new friends in Toronto, and enjoying a variety of social outings with our volunteers, Alieu is now attending school full-time. You may recall that he won a full scholarship to the English as a Second Language Bridge Program at Sir Sandford Fleming College. The program is challenging, but the goal of achieving a high school leaving certificate encourages him along. Alieu is developing confidence in his English language skills and has taken on significant inquiries and decisions for himself.
Alieu has moved into a small apartment in a quiet neighbourhood where he will be happy to be the master of his own kitchen. He is an awesome cook! He also looks forward to being able to have friends come to visit in his very own home. The apartment is convenient to the bus system and to local green spaces and trails. Most of the necessary furnishings have been donated, but we may make a call for other specific items as Alieu gets settled. We are most grateful to Donna and Don, the friends of UFP who generously provided Alieu with a loving home and personal support until his apartment became available.
Thanks to a federal health program and a very generous donor, Alieu has already had a number of dental appointments and has further sessions scheduled through November. His smile gets more beautiful each week!
Our second sponsorship continues to work its way through the IRCC (Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada) process. The slow progress has been difficult for the family members already in Peterborough who are anxious to be reunited with their loved ones. An Ottawa immigration lawyer has been providing pro bono assistance to our Sponsorship Agreement Holder (the Canadian Unitarian Council) to have the urgency of this family’s situation recognized. We hope to report good news on this sponsorship soon.
A recent fundraiser with Ottawa storytellers, Anne and Phil Nagy, boosted our refugee sponsorship fund by more than $2000. The Nagys offered intriguing reflections on their 800 kilometre journey along the Camino de Santiago. Our own David Berger provided guitar accompaniment with a Spanish flavour, and many friends donated interesting items for the silent auction. Thank you to all for the generous donations of time, talent and treasures!
As always, we are grateful for donations either through Canada Helps (Refugee Sponsorship Fund) or by cheque made out to the Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough with Refugee Sponsorship on the memo line.

REFUGEE SPONSORSHIP UPDATE – July 1

UFP’s first sponsorship is proceeding very well.  Our newcomer, Alieu, arrived on May 6 and with the support of our volunteer teams has been adjusting to life in Peterborough.  While staying at his temporary accommodation, Alieu attended English classes each morning.  He will move to his permanent lodging AND begin a summer job early in July.

We congratulate Alieu on receiving a full scholarship to attend the English as a Second Language Bridge Program at Sir Sandford Fleming College beginning this September.  After spending the summer in an English work environment, Alieu will no doubt excel in his new program.

Our second sponsorship continues to work its way through Canada’s refugee and immigration system.  As we have already learned, the process requires much patience.  The CUC, our sponsorship Agreement Holder has been working hard to have the urgency of this family’s situation recognized.  We hope to have this group reunited with other family members in Peterborough before the end of this year.

Fundraising for our sponsorships continues with the goal of an additional $15,000.  An evening of improv comedy was held in June, with The PILL (Peterborough Improv Laughing Lunatics) donating their time and talents to the cause.  Our next fundraiser will happen on Saturday September 17, when Phil and Anne Nagy, will present “Walking the Camino: A Storytelling Concert”.  What are a couple of long-time Unitarians doing on a path that has been followed by Catholic pilgrims for over a thousand years? Come and experience the story of their 800 kilometre walk trying to figure that out. A silent auction of intriguing items and services will round out the evening.

As always, we are grateful for donations either through Canada Helps (Refugee Sponsorship Fund) or by cheque made out to the Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough with Refugee Sponsorship on the memo line.

REFUGEE SPONSORSHIP UPDATE – April 29

We have just received word that our first sponsored newcomer, Alieu Kah, will be arriving at Pearson Airport, Toronto, on May 6!  Our team of volunteers will be on hand to greet him and take him to his temporary housing in Peterborough.  (More permanent housing will be secured later with the benefit of his input.)

We will be responsible for our newcomer for one year, and we have convened a Settlement Team of volunteers.  At the April 11 meeting 23 people signed onto this team, in addition to a “backup” pool who will be helping with transportation and other needed tasks. We are blessed to have so many willing volunteers!  We have organized into 6 teams: housing, medical/dental, education/employment/training, life in Canada, gifts-in-kind (donated), and finance/budget.  Three co-coordinators are keeping tabs on the progress of preparations and will monitor the settlement process going forward.  We are looking forward to getting to know this young man and helping him achieve a solid start for his new life in Canada!

Regarding our sponsorship of 2 Afghani sisters and their 2 children, we are doing everything we can to secure their safety and expedite their application to reunite with family already in Peterborough.  Our contacts at the CUC have been completely “on board” with us in this effort, and are applying, with the help of a “pro-bono” immigration lawyer, to have the urgency of their situation recognized.  Stay tuned.

We have a special fundraising event benefiting refugee sponsorship scheduled for Friday, June 17, 7:30 p.m. at the Naval Club in Peterborough!  This will be a performance by PILL (Peterborough Improv Laughing Lunatics).  The facility is licensed and snacks will be on offer.  You won’t want to miss this fun time for a worthy cause!

AN INVITATION FROM THE REFUGEE SPONSORSHIP COMMITTEE
Monday April 11th at 7:15

Preparation for the arrival and settlement of our newcomer are starting up. There is an important gathering upcoming on Monday April 11th for those who have volunteered and any others interested in becoming volunteers.  The Refugee Sponsorship Steering Committee will provide background information on Gambia, the homeland of the young man we are sponsoring, and also an orientation to the sponsorship and settlement processes.  Volunteers will have the opportunity to meet with others in their particular team and to examine the details of just what’s involved in welcoming and supporting our newcomer.  So please mark your calendars for Monday April 11th at 7:15 and plan to be part of this next important step in UFP’s ministry of refugee sponsorship.

Update of March 1, 2016

The Refugee Sponsorship Committee has just received approval to a sponsor single young man, named Alieu, who has fled from persecution in Gambia. He is coming through a sponsorship program that includes some government financial assistance. We are told that he is “travel ready” which means that he should arrive in the spring.
Our Private Sponsorship of an Afghani family who has fled to Pakistan continues to unfold. Application forms and other documentation have been obtained from the family overseas. Our support people at the Canadian Unitarian Council are receiving assistance from an immigration lawyer to expedite the application, but we are learning that the application process can be convoluted and time-consuming.

In terms of fundraising and donations, we have reached a current balance of $40,000, thanks to the ongoing donations and special fundraising events. Other such events are also “in the works”, and we are confident that the financial commitments to our sponsored people will certainly be met.

Last month, a very brief request appeared on the website page of our committee, seeking temporary accommodation for when our sponsored folk may arrive. Within twenty-four hours we had three offers and we can now put a check mark beside that first, all important step of the “Settlement” process.

“Calling all volunteers.” From the questions we get every Sunday, we know that the interest in involvement with our newcomers is very high. Very soon, volunteer recruitment will begin and we will assemble a “”Settlement Team” to learn and prepare for the many facets of our newcomers’ lives in Peterborough. Stay tuned.

Update of January 6, 2016

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, our fundraising total is currently $30,380! Our target, based on sponsoring a family of 4, remains $40,000. Our efforts toward this goal are ongoing, and are expanding from “asks” to include fundraising events.

We now have 75% of funds required for our sponsorship in the bank, which is the percentage required by the Canadian Unitarian Council for submitting our application to sponsor. The CUC is our Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) under whose umbrella we will interact with the Canadian Government to initiate a sponsorship. On January 11th the committee will begin viewing profiles and move toward choosing our sponsorees.

Many new sponsorship groups are looking exclusively for a Syrian family. However, we have learned that many Eritrean refugees who have already been screened and approved for sponsorship have been waiting a long time for sponsors. We are researching to find out if our Peterborough community would be a good “fit” for Eritreans.

In addition to moving toward an immediate sponsorship, the committee has undertaken a longer term sponsorship commitment to sponsor an Afghani refugee family that fled to Pakistan to escape the Taliban and has extended family in Peterborough. This sponsorship will have the advantage of the presence of their family already in Peterborough and the support they will provide.

Because of the area of Pakistan in which the family resides, it may take up to one and a half years for the process to play out and for the family to arrive in Canada. However, our commitment to sponsor will be instrumental in speeding up a process that would otherwise take several years.

We are so excited to see our efforts coming to fruition and grateful to our donors and supporters who are making this all possible!! We will continue to update this website page as the processes move forward.

Who We Are

We are members and friends of the Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough (UFP) joining together to privately sponsor refugee families and/or individuals. Our goal is to help the refugees successfully settle and adjust to their new home in Peterborough through ongoing financial, logistical and emotional support.  We are able to make this happen with the backing of the UFP congregation, the support of many volunteers, and with the Canadian Unitarian Council as our Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH).

Why We Exist

uu-principles-heartAs Unitarians our first principle is a belief in the inherent worth and dignity of all individuals. Reaching out to those in crisis and need is a longstanding part of the Unitarian ethic and ministry. The Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough has named refugee sponsorship as part of its mission and ministry; and thus, the Refugee Sponsorship Committee exists to guide and enable the congregation to meet that commitment.

Our Financial Need

Our current target is $40,000 in order to sponsor a family of four for our committed support period of 12 months.    We are reaching out to our families, friends and communities for their help in reaching our financial goal. All donations will go directly towards supporting the refugees. Please join us in this effort.

How to Help

We are able to process donations in the following ways:

  1. Cheque
    Made out to the Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough with Refugee Sponsorship in the memo line. 
    Charitable tax receipts will be issued for donations of $10 and above (provided we have your full name and mailing address, including postal code).Our mailing address if you are mailing your donation:Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough
    c/o 171A Rink Street, Suite 266
    Peterborough, ON K9J 2J6
  2. On-Line
    You can now make donations to the Refugee Sponsorship Fund through Canada Helps by using the “Donate” button on the right side of this page. Important note: Tax receipts will be issued by Canada Helps for any amount donated. 3.5% of donations through Canada Helps will go to third-party processing fees.

Any further questions can be directed to: refugeesponsorship@peterboroughunitarian.ca

Our Refugee Sponsorship Resolution

Refugee Meeting 151206At a General Meeting on December 6, 2015, the membership of UFP decided to move ahead with refugee sponsorship. In part, the approved motion read:

“[B]e it resolved that the Refugee Sponsorship Committee proceed with activities that will contribute to the successful settlement and integration of refugees in the Peterborough area.
The UFP intends, as resources allow, to undertake the sponsorship and/or co-sponsorship of refugees, whether individuals, a family or families, under the auspices of the Canadian Unitarian Council.

“To this end, the UFP has established a Refugee Sponsorship Fund and is accepting charitable donations to the fund.”