Haida Gwaii Sponsorship Joys and Sorrows

We are totally grateful to the generosity of Haida Gwaiians and folks from all across British Columbia, Canada and even the United States. Your donations have helped the Sirhans with dental treatments and medical trips to Vancouver. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts!

Successful Dental Surgery
With the assistance of our local dentist, we flew Aya, Shahid and Alaa out to Vancouver in early February to have their dental surgery with a paediatric dentist. After almost nine hours, the dentist fixed a total of 38 cavities, some gum disease and infected teeth.

New Leg for Douaa
On January 12, Douaa flew to Vancouver with Hassan and she received her new walking leg! Here’s a video link to the day she was fitted her new leg.

This little 5-year-old girl is determined to walk again. Since her return to Haida Gwaii, she is able to participate in dance classes, PE and independently check out the equipment at playgrounds.

Our Next Steps
Shahid will fly off again to Vancouver as she now has a medical appointment with an orthopedist at BC Children’s Hospital on March 27.

Both Shahid and Douaa were injured in Syria when the rocket hit their house. According to the doctor, Shahid needs multiple knee surgeries to correct her bone growth till she is a young adult.

Douaa will also need to eventually head off to Vancouver for her paediatric dental care in the next few months. Hassan and Lama had undergone a few dental treatments to fix cavities and infections.


Our sincere condolences to Hassan, his parents and siblings who are still in Syria. His older brother Abdullah and another White Helmet volunteer died on March 20 when their vehicle was hit by a missile.

Abdullah was the Director of the Syria Civil Defence in Dara’a. He and hundreds of White Helmet volunteers work so hard in saving lives. Abdullah left behind his wife and five young children.

Here is White Helmet’s tribute to Abdullah on the Syria Campaign page. It is sad to see that the civil war in Syria has impacted many innocent lives.
If you would like to learn more about The White Helmets, you can check out their website or view the 40-minute documentary “The White Helmets” on Netflix. This documentary recently won an Oscar in February. Syrian cinematographer Khaled Khatib was denied entry to the U.S. to attend the Oscar ceremony.

Hassan’s heart wrenching interview about his brother Abdullah was aired this morning on CBC’s Daybreak North. Here’s the link to the web story and sound recording – http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/haidagwaii-refugee-in-mourning-after-brother-is-killed-in-targeted-attack-1.4037130




Copyright © 2017 Operation Refugees Haida Gwaii, All rights reserved.
Thanks for supporting our new Syrian friends.

Our mailing address is:
Operation Refugees Haida Gwaii
Box 807
Queen Charlotte, BC V0T 1S0

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Preparing for newcomers – The Galiano experience

Public Meeting, September 18:

Newcomers Coming!

As Galiano anticipates the arrival of four newcomers to this island, preparations are underway to make their integration into island life as easy as possible. With many questions to be answered about how all this might work, a public meeting was held on September 18 at the South Hall where presenters gave updates to islanders about the four people about to join our community. They are coming from west Africa, from Cote d’Ivoire. The two women, one of whom has two small children, will be living in the suite in a house near the school.

The main issues of language and cultural integration were a focus of discussion; as well, Janice had on display a variety of food items that will be stocked in the house for the arrival of people who more than likely will not be familiar with some of the packages they will encounter on our grocery shelves. The more than forty attendees at the meeting were made aware of the degree of preparation to date, and the fact that while we know who is coming our way, we don’t yet know very much about them. For example, we can only guess at their clothing requirements, coming from equatorial Africa at this time of year.

We can at least anticipate that their transition here will be challenging in some ways, easy in others, and with the guidance of the counseling team we are working to co-ordinate our efforts and make it the best possible experience for these newcomers. The practical challenges of transportation for medical appointments and shopping, using our currency, dealing with household appliances, building trust and getting to know individuals on the team, and language acquisition are all factors we have to take into account. And there are more, no doubt: the best laid plans should have a back-up, and the team has done a lot of thinking and projecting in order to minimize the surprise factor for ourselves.

It should be interesting!


Team Training, September 20

Following the public meeting, Tuesday saw the Support Project assembled at the Lions’ Hall for a half-day training session with two presenters from the diocese in Victoria. Malcolm and Betty took us through scenarios typical for new arrivals and their sponsoring groups, and small group discussions allowed everyone to express a point of view and brainstorm solutions. It was easy to see how relevant the scenarios presented were to our anticipated experience, and it was a valuable exercise in creating dialogue and sharing concerns.

It was reassuring to come away from the afternoon knowing that we had already done a lot of pre-thinking over the previous months. The issues of respecting the personal needs and rights of the newcomers—of giving them ownership of their experience—became a significant theme in our discussions. We are there to offer guidance and encouragement, and to move them toward the goal of eventual self-sufficiency over a twelve-month period. We are there to help make the right things happen for them in what will be a totally new environment, and to help them see beyond the mandated time of sponsorship.