The refugee crisis is not over.
Millions of people have been displaced from their homes. Families and individuals have fled bombing, witnessed murders, and endured forced military service while they evade radical groups that are terrorizing their region. Many have lost everything. They had jobs, careers, homes, communities, stable lives, and friends. Those things have been destroyed.
Haitham is one of these people. His neighbourhood, in his hometown of Damascus, was destroyed by bombs. His family has been displaced and his community destroyed. His home is now a pile of rubble.
Haitham fled when he was forced to choose between serving in the military or being killed. While his family fled to Egypt, Haitham followed a job lead to Turkey. The job did not materialize, and he spent the next couple of years scrambling to survive. Work was rarely available, and when it was, it was often underpaid or stolen. He found himself sleeping in parks and eating only eggs for months on end. Starving and unable to get enough to live on, he returned to Syria where he was immediately arrested and sentenced to hard labour.
After several months of labour, he managed to escape to Lebanon, crossing the border at night. There, he again lived under very difficult circumstances; beatings were common for Syrians living there.
Finally, after borrowing from every resource available, his parents were able to bribe officials to let him into Egypt. They were reunited for a short time. His family then had to leave him behind when were accepted into Canada as government sponsored refugees. Haitham has been struggling in Egypt ever since.
In the past couple of years, the United Nations has recorded the highest number of refugees in history. Over 12 million people from Syria are displaced or seeking refuge, in addition to over 8 million people from Africa, Afghanistan, and the rest of the world. At the same time, the voluntary return rates—a measure of how many refugees can safely return home—are at their lowest levels in over 3 decades. Never before has there been a greater need for tolerance, compassion, and support for people who have lost everything. For many of these people, getting enough to eat is a daily challenge, abuse is common, and there is little hope for a better future.
In 2016, the outpouring of support in Canada for Syrian refugees was tremendous. People from Victoria came together and sponsored dozens of families. The Federal Government matched this effort by bringing nearly as many families to Lower Vancouver Island.
Since then, a lot of people have been busy helping these new Canadians set up their homes and settle into a new life. But there is more to do. There are more people to reunite with their families and more people to give a chance at a safe and secure life.
Haitham is such a person. Now that he is married and has a baby son, life has become even more difficult. He and his new family desperately need our help to resettle near his parents, who have recently arrived in Canada.
I have been helping newly arrived refugees for the past two years by receiving and distributing donated household goods and furniture to help them completely furnish and set up their new households thanks to the help of Victoria’s generous donors and volunteers.
Now, I want to do more. I want to sponsor Haitham. But, I cannot do it alone. It will take a small committed multi-skilled group, pulling together to do, over a 12 month period, all that needs to be done to resettle Haitham’s small family ..from housing to health, ESL and much more, so as to help them integrate and become self sustaining. And, this group will have to raise the money required to do all this, as other groups have done before us.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 778-433-0337