Directly after the event, our six core group members decided we would take on a Blended Visa Office-Referred case. In short, these are refugees identified by the UNHCR as being at highest risk. These include refugees with medical conditions (including high levels of PTSD), refugees with special needs, families who have lost a member due to war, and those who are at risk for being LGBTQ or for being part of a religious minority.
Despite the fact that these cases usually take the most work, we are confident in the large network of support that both Toronto and Canada are providing. We have since submitted our paperwork to Lifeline Syria, and are waiting for an email or phone call with a case proposal. Although we could technically get matched any day, we feel we will realistically have a family arrive between January and February!
In order to prepare for our family’s arrival, we have spent hours (if not days) creating budgets, viewing apartments, finding translators, and compiling an extensive binder in both English and Arabic.
We have also attended a number of workshops, and completed a two hour spoken Arabic crash-course with the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies and Languages (each of us are now pros at enthusiastically greeting each other)!
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
At present we are holding off on receiving physical donations until further notice. Once we have a better grasp of the family dynamic and have secured a suitable apartment, we will reach out and let everyone know what items the family will need! Our paypal account is however still open for monetary donations. You can find it at www.syriatothe6.ca/donate !
We are, in the meantime, looking for local Arabic speaking volunteers who can help us with translation once the family arrives. We are hoping to get a number of translators interested ahead of time, so no one person has to do too much. Tasks could include accompanying the family and one of the sponsors to get an OHIP card, enrolling a child in schooling etc.
Finally, we are looking for hypothetical temporary accommodation should the family arrive before their apartment is ready. We will look at sublets or Air bnb as a backup, but are putting out the request in case someone has a space available!
We would yet again like to thank everyone for their enormous support throughout this journey. We couldn’t have reached this point without you, and we can’t wait to help a family start their new life in Toronto!
By Caroline Pandeli