Postcards from Syria: Donor Update

Dear Donors,
When you generously donated to help Ahmed and his family find a safe home in Canada, I promised to let you know when they made it out. I write today with good news, and not-so-good news.
Ahmed has made it safely to Lebanon.
His journey out of Syria was very long and for a while we weren’t sure it would happen. The trip itself was safe (gratefully!), but jumping over unexpected administrative hurdles proved difficult—his passport, which he needed to cross safely, had been damaged in a clash last November and replacing it took longer than any of us would have liked. But he is safe now.
That said, things in Canada have shifted since I last wrote. When we started this process, Canada’s policy allowed a “Group of 5” (G5) private citizens to sponsor Syrian and Iraqi people who were not officially registered as refugees through the UN, which is a process that can take years. Canada allowed an unlimited number of unregistered Syrians and Iraqis to enjoy G5 sponsorship through most of 2016, but on December 19 they revoked this policy, offering only 1000 more spots on a first come/first served basis. Only refugees outside of their home country qualified and, because Ahmed and family were not able to leave Syria due to Ahmed’s passport, we missed the window. Their G5 is no longer able to sponsor them, and this was a shock to all of us who were anticipating that the policy would be in place through at least September 2017.
But all is not lost. We are making headway in our pursuit of finding a “Sponsorship Agreement Holder” (SAH), which is an organization that can sponsor non-registered refugees. We are trying now to get Ahmed and his family on a waiting list for 2018. Because of your donations, and also because we have been promised free housing, we are in a strong position to find an SAH and are feeling optimistic.
As for the rest of his family, Ahmed’s sister and brother-in-law are currently safe in Turkey, while his mother, step father, and two teenaged sisters are still in Syria and are sorting out their next steps.
Thank you again for your generous donation. It has meant the world to Ahmed and his family. All of the donated funds are in a bank in Canada, held in a trust for this family. We’ve encountered a hurdle, but are pressing on!
Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions:
Warm regards,

Postcards from Syria: Donor Update

A letter to people who donated to our fundraiser to bring Ahmed’s family to Canada, where private citizens can sponsor refugees. 

Dear Donors,

Thanks to you and your generous donation, we have met our financial goal!! Ahmed and family can now apply for private Canadian sponsorship, and they are eager to leave Syria and start their new lives in peace and safety.

Continue reading

Postcards from Syria: Huzzah! He’s back online.

My new mantra: Do not freak out when Ahmed sends a recording of explosions then goes offline … 

Folks, he’s back and I’m celebrating. And we’re both feeling surprisingly supported, too— Many friends, old and new, checked in during the black out to see if I’d heard any word. I shared with him some Facebook comments that read like a giant scroll of thoughts and prayers sent for his safety, and he said “Wow! That’s amazing. Please thank everyone for me. They are in my heart now, too.”
Continue reading

Postcards from Syria: He made it through the night

Ahmed, my honorary brother trying to survive the war in Syria, made it through the attack last night.

At 2:55 am I woke after a restless sleep to see if he was online. It was almost 10:00 am in Syria. The message I sent before bed had left my phone but had not yet been received by his.

I panicked. Was the Wi-Fi signal damaged by the fighting? Or had his phone been damaged? Or… I can’t even say it.

Continue reading

Postcards from Syria: The Sliding Scale of Safety

Sometimes I am not strong enough to know Ahmed. If you’ve been following my posts, you know he is the guy in Syria who has become my honorary little brother and I am trying to raise money to get his family to a safe life in Canada, where private citizens can sponsor refugees. 

This is not a good time for him and, by extension, me.

Friday night bullets and missiles were within 350 feet of him. Tonight he said they were closer.

Much closer.

Continue reading