JANUARY 2022 UPDATE!
Your Refugee Sponsorship Committee would like to express our deep gratitude to the UFP community for your generosity in supporting our recent campaign for the sponsorship of the Zaki family! We hoped to raise at least $17,000 locally to complete our required funding for the one year maintenance of the family: your donations exceeded our goal, and totaled $20,578 to the end of December 2021!
In addition, we raised $5,594 from the North American Unitarian community through a campaign on the Faithify website, a site that showcases opportunities to donate to a variety of Unitarian related and sponsored philanthropic causes. Non-UFP friends donated another $1,376.
Another reason we are so pleased with these results is that we have had to bump up our estimate of sponsorship funds required due to the escalation of the cost of living in general, and in particular a dramatic rise in housing rental costs.
The Zaki family will be having an online interview with personnel in the Ankara, Turkey Canadian Consulate on February 3, and if all goes well, should be arriving in Peterborough sometime this coming summer. If you have any leads on possible housing rentals for a family of 8 during that time frame, please let us know. In the meantime, we continue to accept donations toward this sponsorship (there can be unanticipated costs) or future sponsorships through the Faith in Action/Refugee Sponsorship page on the UFP website. Also, this is a reminder that we will be needing volunteers to help the family settle and get established in their new home. And again, deep gratitude for your support!
Our mission is to help refugees move…
from homelessness to a new home
from persecution to security
Fundraising Appeal for Sponsorship of Afghan Refugee Family
Dec 3, 2021
On August 25, 2020 Saba Sahar’s car arrived as usual, at 7 a.m., at the back gate of her home in Kabul, Afghanistan, with 3 bodyguards, to take her to work. Ms. Sahar was acting Deputy Commander of Security at the Ministry of the Interior of Afghanistan, a well-known figure in the field of cinema, and an activist for the protection of womens’ rights. Shortly after leaving her home that morning, with her 4 year old daughter beside her, her car was attacked by several gunmen, who wounded 2 of her bodyguards, and shot her 4 times in the abdomen. Here is the account from one media outlet: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-54084848
Ms. Sahar was severely wounded, but survived her injuries following multiple operations, and eventually was transferred to Bagram Hospital at the U.S. run Bagram Air Force base. Meanwhile, her family received anonymous threats against their lives on an ongoing basis. At Bagram, Saba’s nurse was a young man who soon returned home to the U.S. and related Saba’s story to his Aunt Sue. Sue knew that the family had to flee Afghanistan to save their lives, and she began to raise funds from among her family and contacts, including using this Facebook Go-Fund-Me page, which includes pictures: https://www.facebook.com/savingsabasahar.
Sue’s funds facilitated the family’s flight to Tajikistan, where they have been granted temporary refugee status. As the U.S. was not accepting refugee applications, Sue’s research led her to Canada. Since her daughter is a Unitarian and was involved in the fundraising, she contacted the CUC Refugee desk, and they contacted our UFP Committee. When we heard the Zaki family’s story, we were very moved and unanimously agreed to undertake the sponsorship. The extended family includes 3 adults and 5 children.
Our application to sponsor the family was approved by the Canadian government in June, and the Zaki’s await further vetting overseas by Canadian consular personnel. Meantime, Sue has transferred the funds she raised to us, which will cover 60% of our required total. We still need to raise $20,000 and are appealing to you, to the generosity of the UFP community for help.
Donations can be made in 3 ways:
1) By etransfer to firstname.lastname@example.org provided there is a notation in the message box that it is a donation to UFP’s Refugee Sponsorship Fund.
2) Funds can also be donated through Canada Helps at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/17072. Choose “UFP’s Refugee Sponsorship Fund” from the drop menu. However, please note that Canada Helps subtracts 3% from your donation to cover their administration fees.
3) Alternatively, you can mail a cheque made out to the UFP to 171A Rink Street, Suite 266, Peterborough, On K9J 2J6. Write “Refugee Sponsorship” bottom left on the “Memo” line.
Regardless of how you donate, a tax receipt will be issued; if you donate through Canada Helps, they issue the receipt. Thanks for considering our appeal!
Refugee Sponsorship Update – November 2021
Responding to the unprecedented situation in Afghanistan, your Refugee Sponsorship Committee is undertaking an ambitious sponsorship of an extended Afghan family of 8, including 5 children. We need the congregation’s financial support, and will be launching our appeal after the Pledge campaign finishes, but we want to give you a little information in advance.
The family we are sponsoring fled Kabul, Afghanistan to neighbouring Tajikistan following an assassination attempt in August 2020 on a family member who was a prominent film director, actress, senior official in the Afghan Security Forces, and an advocate for women’s rights. She was hit by 4 gunshots, but has survived and partially recovered from her wounds. More information here: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-54084848, and here: https://www.facebook.com/savingsabasahar
Our application to sponsor has been approved by the Canadian government, but unfortunately the overseas vetting process is backlogged and very delayed. We look forward to providing more details about this family and their circumstances upon our fundraising launch. We hope you will keep this initiative in mind in case you are planning end-of-year charitable giving!
Refugee Sponsorship Update – November 2020
On September 1 your Refugee Sponsorship Committee completed our one year sponsorship of a Syrian family of 7, although informal support of the family has continued in various ways. This has been our 3rd sponsorship since our inception in 2014. We previously sponsored a single man from west Africa whose life and well-being were under threat in his country. We then sponsored an Afghan woman-led family of 4 who were fleeing violence and reuniting with family who live in southern Ontario.
Besides raising the funds for the sponsor financial commitments and applying for sponsorship and receiving approval from the Canadian government, sponsorship involves one year of helping the family settle in Peterborough and begin to adjust to life in Canada. To accomplish this we have had Settlement Teams of volunteers from UFP who have worked tirelessly to acquire housing, manage funds, deal with education, employment and health care needs, and introduce the newcomers to the many facets of life in Canada.
Generally we have had weekly breakfast meetings to keep in touch about the many facets of this work. Our volunteers feel that they get as much as they give through the rich experience of forming relationships and interacting with the newcomers.
Currently we are applying for 2 sponsorships of individual Syrian refugees fleeing violence and re-uniting with family members in Peterborough. As well, we have been able to leverage our mission of refugee sponsorship by forming partnerships with other community groups who are sponsoring. We become their co-sponsors, and they benefit from our experience and expertise.
We are grateful to UFP for ongoing logistical support and for the many kind donations toward the cause that members have given. As in our hurting world the needs are endless, we remain grateful to receive your donations through the CanadaHelps portal on the website: faith in action/refugee sponsorship.
Refugee Sponsorship Update – October 2019
This spring we were pleased to conclude our successful one year sponsorship of the Afghan family of 4, while also continuing on with our support via the many personal relationships that had been established. In June, Kazi gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Yousef! The family have now reunited with their close relatives, as had been the plan, by moving to Hamilton. We wish them all the best, and were so pleased to be able to facilitate their immigration to Canada! The UFP community of members and friends deserves special commendation for donating over $40,000 to make this sponsorship possible!
In May of this year we were informed that a sponsorship could be initiated in such a way that fundraising could be minimized because of dual support from the Canadian government and a foundation based in Ottawa. We chose to take advantage of this opportunity and selected a Syrian family of 7 from a government list of already-vetted potential refugees. On August 8 of this year we welcomed the Almubarak family, with their 5 children ranging in age from 5 to 16!
In the 2 months of sponsorship so far, our Settlement Team has been a beehive of activity aimed at welcoming the family and helping them to get their bearings in Peterborough. We were extremely fortunate to be able to retain the rental home that housed our previous group! The family, whose first language is Arabic, is enthusiastically embracing the learning of English. The children are all in their appropriate grade levels at school, ranging from grade school to high school, and are finding those experiences welcoming and congenial. The parents attend English classes at Fleming 4 days a week.
Our Settlement Team consists of 12 volunteers who are divided into areas of responsibility, such as: coordinators, finance, education, housing, medical/health, transportation, and “life in Canada,” meaning integrating into activities such as sports, community events, and opportunities to make social connections. The fact that many Syrians are already settled in Peterborough has been a tremendous asset in welcoming the Almubaraks and helping them with the life-changing transition they have made. Already they have made fast friends in this diaspora. Also, the help of the New Canadian Centre has been invaluable.
The Settlement Team have been gratified and warmed to discover and enjoy the congeniality, positivity, and good humour that are central to this family’s life. The adversity they have experienced has apparently not dimmed their spirit, and we believe that they have much to contribute to Canada. Our lives are enriched by knowing them, and through the partnership we have established.
Refugee Sponsorship, November 2018
Your Refugee Sponsorship Committee is now soliciting funds for our next sponsorship. Through donations largely from the UFP community, we have engaged in two very successful sponsorships involving 5 refugees, 4 from Afghanistan and 1 from Gambia. Our Afghani sponsorship ends March 31, 2019.
We continue to believe that refugee sponsorship is a vital, relevant, and personal way to make a positive impact in today’s world. We are fortunate to live in a country that welcomes those fleeing war, persecution, and discrimination! Our congregation has voted to make refugee sponsorship part of our Mission.
Through our work during the past 4 years we have developed a team of dedicated volunteers skilled in refugee sponsorship and settlement. Please consider making a tax deductible donation toward our next sponsorship by using the Canada Helps “Donate Now” button on this page, or by personal cheque made out to the UFP with “Refugee Sponsorship” written on the memo line.
Refugee Sponsorship Update, Summer 2018
Our sponsorship of the Afghan family of 4 newcomers to Canada continues to unfold nicely. They are becoming more accustomed to life in Canada with each passing day. The family consists of sisters Aqui and Kazi, and Aqui’s 2 children Mahsa (age 21) and Sayed (age 10). The family arrived in Canada mid-February and lived in donated temporary housing until April 1, when they moved into the 4 bedroom apartment they now occupy.
Both adults have been enrolled at Fleming College for daily English Language classes since shortly after their arrival. Mahsa engaged for several weeks in an employment readiness program, and has now has a part-time job. Her longer term goal is to pursue post-secondary education in animation, and she is currently working toward improving her English language skills in order to qualify. Her English is already good enough for her to serve as an able interpreter for her family. Sayed is attending elementary school and achieving nicely.
Our team of Settlement volunteers has been meeting regularly to debrief and review goals and progress. We have a solid, committed team who have developed good personal connections with the family! The family are very close with their extended family in Hamilton, and enjoy mutual visits. We will be sponsoring this family until the end of March 2019 and will help them begin the transition to independence well before that time. Our team is enjoying getting to know this family and grateful for the meaningful volunteer activity of helping them adjust to life in their new homeland.
The family has asked us to convey that the volunteers they have been working with are “like family,” but also that they would like to express their profound gratitude for their sponsorship to those they have not so far had the opportunity to meet.
Refugee Sponsorship Update, February 2018
With joy and gratitude we share great news about the newcomer family we have been awaiting! Official notice has just been received that they will arrive in Toronto on February 14, the day of love. We expect they will spend several days resting and reconnecting with close family members (and our co-sponsors) who currently live in Hamilton. They will then move to temporary accommodations here in Peterborough and the settlement process will begin. Sue Sauvé and Erica Nol are coordinating the activities of teams of volunteers dealing with all aspects of the family’s settlement into life in Canada. The ups and downs of the application and approval processes that have led to this point were challenging to us, but so much more so to the family overseas. We are grateful to April (Hope) Lilley of the CUC and Marisa Kaczmarczyk of Maryam Monsef’s office for dealing with organizational hurdles throughout the sponsorship process, and to all the generous UFP and community donors who are providing this family with a new life in Canada.
Refugee Sponsorship Update, December 2017
Enthusiastic teams of settlement volunteers met this week to plan for the arrival of our sponsored Afghani family of four, due to arrive in February. Housing, medical attention, language training, schooling, socializing, and learning about their new land will all be part of the activities. If you would like to join the team to support their integration, please contact Linda or Arthur Herold at 705-536- 0035. We would welcome more team leaders, as well as drivers and donors.
This will be our second refugee settlement. You may recall that in December 2015 the members of our Fellowship endorsed expansion of UFP’s mission to include the settlement of refugees in this area. While we have in hand about 90% of the funds required for the new family’s first year in Canada, additional donations will complete that commitment and allow the committee to plan for new sponsorships beyond 2018.
Our Refugee Committee is responsible for financially supporting our refugee family for one year. We are grateful for all donations, either by cheque to the Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough with Refugee Sponsorship on the memo line, or on-line through Canada Helps. All funds will be used for refugee settlement, either the Afghani family we are awaiting, or the next sponsorship we undertake. Tax receipts will be issued by the Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough for donations made by cheque and by Canada Helps for donations made on-line. 3.5% of donations through Canada Helps will go to third-party processing fees.
Any further questions can be directed to: email@example.com
Update on Alieu, Our First Refugee
May 2017 marked 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. While Alieu is snugly in the hearts of many people from the Committee and beyond, he is making his way independently now.
For the Committee, being connected with other UU congregations and other Peterborough groups settling refugees was very helpful. In addition to the UFP sponsored refugee, many members and friends of UFP have been working with other refugee groups in town, and may bring their experience gained from this to help with UFP’s next refugee family.
About Our Refugee Committee
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).
As 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 Refugee Sponsorship Resolution
At 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.”