Good Evening/Morning Everyone,
As a member of our Refugee Sponsorship Committee, I want to share with you the status of our dear family overseas, patiently awaiting for the opportunity to come and enjoy the warmth, generosity and faithful devotion of our parish and surrounding community.
A short time ago, a local news story informed us that a refugee sponsorship group in Qualicum Beach would soon be joined by a young Syrian family in the next 4 - 6 weeks. This has prompted many of you to ask the question: when might we expect our refugee family to arrive? And why is it taking so long? Both very fair and natural questions at this stage in our efforts.
Toma, Sahar and their adorable daughter Angel have completed all required paperwork, passed required medicals, and successfully attended two mandatory interviews. They now await the issuance of travel visas from the Canadian government. Members of our committee have been in touch recently with the office of our local MP and hope to set up a meeting in mid-December to plead our case and gain some ground with these unfortunate delays. So why the delays? Firstly, Citizenship and Immigration Canada pulled a lot of administrative resources overseas when they reached their goal of 25,000 Syrian refugees almost two years ago. This has created a backlog of private sponsorship applications, currently at about 45,000 – including three others in our area who have waited nearly 18 months for some progress. We have recently learned from our colleagues in the Archdiocese of Toronto that Iraqi applications (that’s our family) usually take a couple of years, regardless of country of asylum.
Second is our choice to go the route of private sponsorship as opposed to a Blended Visa – Office Referred application (BVOR for short) where UN Immigration agencies match you with the next available family in the cue. The refugee sponsorship group in Qualicum Beach mentioned above chose this option, resulting in a faster processing time.
However, following our initial presentations on the plight of refugees a couple of years back, most within our congregation were heavily in favor of seeking and financing a Christian family – someone who might join us, teach us, and grow with us in faith. This could not be guaranteed with an application through United Nations agencies.
Please be assured that all monies donated through your overwhelming kindness remain secured and dedicated to their original purpose – to help settle and support an overseas family in need, who have endured the hardships, persecutions and frustrations of civil unrest.
Please do not give up hope. I know God is with them as he is with us. Let us pray often, persevere, and prepare our hearts to welcome our neighbours from the east. They are so anxious to start a new life with us. May we always extend to them the gift of God’s mercy and
Thank you again my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and have a blessed Sunday.