Janice Skafel, Sponsorship Chair

i) The Al-Alems in Lebanon

We continue to keep our Syrian family, Karima, Mohamad, Faten and Ahmad in our hearts and in our prayers as they wait out what must seem like forever to get to Canada from Beirut. They arrived there more than 7 years ago with their family, the Hajj-Kasems, who now wait for them here in Burlington. 

The Syrian war, now in its ninth year, has displaced 6 million people internally and turned almost as many into refugees. A million and a half ended up in neighbouring Lebanon among its own population of just over 4 million, giving it the highest ratio of refugees to native population in the world.

This adopted country of Lebanon for the family must have seemed like a welcome respite from the war going on in Syria, where they have lost their home, family members and friends, and at first Lebanon’s policy was to host them until the war in the neighboring country had ended. But in reality, as time goes on, Lebanon has been intentionally making life harder for its Syrian refugees, instilling a fear of detention and eventual deportation on top of the daily trials of discrimination, curfews, and lack of food.

In a country that already has a high unemployment rate, work has been hard to find for Mohamad. Yet, right after the explosion in Beirut in August, Mohamad was at the epicentre of it all, donating blood to help the overwhelmed hospitals after that horrific explosion. 

Mohamed donating blood
Mohamed donating blood

They live about 15 km from the port where the explosion happened in August and were safe and unharmed physically. We are relieved to hear that. But the explosion has created numerous complications about employment, the economy and food security. Lebanon’s economy before the explosion, already had a poverty rate that had risen past 50%.

With this, on top of everything, the family has trouble keeping faith that they will ever get to Canada. They are struggling, discouraged and overwhelmed, and simply long for a place of peace where they can be with their family. They are grateful for the $250 we send each month, raised by the small fundraiser we had in the spring, which means that at least they don’t have to worry about rent. Their arrival here is still unknown and it is a waiting game for their application to get through the immigration process. With our experience from other Refugee Families that we have privately sponsored through St Luke’s since 1996, know that there is very little we can do to speed things up.

Karima and family are at one of the busiest places for refugee processing, which means that there may be a longer wait for everything to be processed in Beirut. There are a lot of cases waiting. COVID has not helped, and with the port explosion, existing problems have now been exacerbated.

ii) Fundraising:

As we think ahead to their arrival, we need to continue to pray for them and to continue to raise funds for their first year’s living costs plus start up costs.  If you can donate at this time towards the preparation for their new lives here, please give towards our refugee sponsorship ministry.

Please consider a donation before the end of the year. You can also make a small monthly donation if you prefer. Small sums add up fast!

This spring, at the height of the Covid-19 first wave, donors answered our call to provide funds for the immediate needs of the Al-Alems, who were experiencing ever-greater financial difficulty meeting basic needs.

Thank you for wanting to support this family so compassionately.

We have all of course been focused on our own lives during this pandemic, and it has inevitably somewhat diverted our attention away from so many needs elsewhere. But we want to focus our attention now on the Al-Alem family, who are enduring so much more than we can imagine here. 

Your financial support for the Al-Alems will make all the difference in enabling their successful transition to a new life in Canada, a comfortable and safe new home, and the countless – and often expensive – things that refugee families have to do soon after they arrive.

This pandemic paralyses us in so many ways, and our plans for any fundraisers have had to be curtailed this year. Still, our imaginations keep moving forward as we try to work out how we can continue on with creative and innovative ways to raise the funds we need to prepare for their arrival.  Please watch out for some fun things coming next year! You won’t be disappointed! 

Watch for continued updates on our BDRA website and our newsletters and we thank you all for your support and prayers.