Ahmed is 22 and wants to be a dentist. He visits elementary schools in Syria to teach children how to care for their teeth. His stepfather, Yasser, is a doctor forbidden from practicing medicine because he worked for a government-run hospital in an area controlled by rebels—but he continues to help the sick and wounded in secret, for only $1 per visit. He also grows vegetables, which he gives away to very hungry people in his neighborhood.
They have devoted their lives to helping people. Now it’s our turn to help them survive. Ahmed and Yasser are trying desperately to bring their family to a safe and productive life in Canada.
In the area where they live, bombs fall daily and chemical attacks are common. They initially stayed in Syria because it was costly to travel to and live in neighboring countries. They also never thought the war would rage on this long. But now, 5 years later, they are desperate to leave.
We are a group of Canadians and Americans committed to giving them a new life in Canada. Jennifer Schwitzer is a Canadian citizen leading the family’s sponsor group in Edmonton, Alberta. Jennifer is a home sales consultant who just returned from spending a year traveling the world doing volunteer work, including with refugees in Greece.
Team Ahmed also includes Americans Marcy Franck, who volunteered in Greek refugee camps, blogs about refugee issues for the Huffington Post, and is the communications director of a research institute at Harvard University; Ayesha Mattu, a critically acclaimed author featured in the New York Times, NPR, the BBC, Washington Post and Guardian; and Leslie Meral Schick, the former co-director of a non profit providing aid to refugees, who was featured in the Huffington Post and currently coordinates online to help refugees in need. Vania Davidovic, a seasoned refugee sponsor in Canada, is guiding us through the process, as is the government-run Refugee Sponsorship Training Program.
We have been in daily contact with Ahmed since May 2016. He is intelligent, kind, and has kept his sense of humor despite the war around him.
Meet the members of this family:
Ahmed (22) is fluent in English and eager to help Canadian children with his dentistry skills.
Haifa (42, Ahmed’s Mother) is a full-time mom who is so proud of the young adults her children have become.
Yasser (56, Ahmed’s Stepfather), in addition to administering to his patients in secret, grows wheat and vegetables to feed his family, and gives away much of his harvest to those in need.
Yara (18, Ahmed’s half-sister) completed her baccalaureate in architecture (an exam to prepare for higher education), and dreams of creating beautiful spaces one day.
Rama (17, Ahmed’s half-sister) is almost finished with her high school education and wishes to become a doctor.
Nour (23, Ahmed’s sister) completed her degree in French literature and lives with her husband in Turkey.
Amjad (36, Nour’s husband) was a successful banker in Syria but has been unable to find work in Turkey because of regulations on Syrian refugees.
What’s holding us back from relocating Ahmed and his family to safety is financing. The Canadian government estimates that it would cost $60,800 CAD ($46,000 USD) to settle this family of seven for one year in Canada. However, because we have already secured housing, furniture, and clothing for the family, the minimum we must raise is $29,550 CAD ($22,365 USD). We have added 2.9% to cover what WePay charges to accept funds, for a total of $30,433 CAD ($23,102 USD). After one year, with some guidance and help from their sponsor group, the family will be in a position to support itself.
Your donation covers critical necessities including:
- Food for a year
- Utilities for a year
- Public transportation
- Startup costs
- Other necessities
Once we have met our fundraising goal, the family will move to Turkey to wait for their sponsorship application to process.
Time is running out—the Turkish border is closed, but there is a temporary policy to allow Syrians to reunite with family already living in Turkey.
The money we raise will be held in a trust for this family, which they will have access to after they arrive in Canada.
Please help us bring Ahmed and his family to Alberta before their window to escape closes.
*Because Ahmed and family are still in Syria and could be targeted, it is not safe to use their real names or photos.