Thursday, 10 December 2015

Why we share our experience with the public

Our sponsorship group continues to get a quite a bit of media attention, possibly because the family we are sponsoring arrived a few days before most of the other Syrian newcomers who are coming to Canada this week.

One of the reasons we have accepted to do so many interviews is that from the start, we wanted to be advocates and encourage others to get involved. We also feel it is important to put a human face on the overall refugee issue so that people move beyond the numbers.

Our group's chair Andrew FitzGerald talked to the CBC News Network today about our group's experience with the sponsorship process.

He was also a guest on the CBC's Power and Politics last night, following a discussion of MPs in Ottawa about the refugee settlement program. 

The CBC posted a very nice video of Anas' memorable first week end in Canada on their website, which he spent at the cottage of his temporary hosts Lisa and John.

And a photo of the Abdallah family featured prominently in the online version of a wonderful Toronto Star editorial welcoming newcomers from Syria into Canada. 

Monday, 7 December 2015

The whole Abdallah family is finally in Toronto!

Today was the day we have been waiting for so long! After a sleepless night, a very tense and excited Anas went with 9 of our group members to Pearson Airport, where the rest of the family landed early in the morning on a plane from Beirut, via Cairo. 

Everything went smoothly, and we were relieved that Oais' scooter arrived in one piece. Seeing the Abdallahs was like meeting old friends  - partly because we had already been in touch via social media for 10 days - and there were smiles, hugs and a flurry of Arabic and English greetings all around. Anas' incredibly cute nieces Aya and Reemas kept on shouting 'I love you' and charmed all of us. We all felt quite emotional and teary-eyed. 

The family members are now in their newly furnished apartments to take a rest and start the first day of their new lives in Canada. After losing everything in Syria and living in dire conditions in Lebanon as refugees for several years, they will finally live in a safe place they can call their own. The family's life has been changed forever - but so have our lives, in more ways than we could have imagined. The arrival is not the end of the journey, it's a beginning. 

To see more photos of the family's arrival, please click on this link

The emotional reunion of the family was captured by a camera team of the CBC's The National

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Everything is ready for the family's arrival

Saturday was moving day! Several group members and a few student volunteers from Ryerson University moved furniture and other donated items from different places in Toronto to the two apartments we found for the family. Everything went smoothly and the two places look terrific. Thanks so much to our very generous in-kind donors, who only gave us high-quality items, and to the volunteers who helped out! The strong community support continues to amaze us.
To view more photos of the move and the apartments, please click on this link

And another ripple effect: Julie Dabrusin, the liberal MP for the Toronto-Danforth riding, met with Anas to learn about his and our sponsorship group's experiences. She wants to talk to other groups too and plans to convey their comments and suggestions to the federal government.  

Julie mentioned our group when she addressed the House of Commons.