For those of you who have been wondering how the refugees we have sponsored or have applied to sponsor are doing, here is a quick update. We find their resilience inspiring!
Our Ethiopian friends. Workenesh finished her Food Services Certificate with CIWA in January, after studying all fall (in person!) She and Desalegnn both have level 4 English LINC. Workenesh cannot find steady work in the food industry right now, so is back working in the evenings office cleaning. She is hoping to get work in her field when hiring conditions improve. Desalegnn has full-time work at Cargill meat processing plant in NE Calgary, and recently received special recognition for being one of their best workers! They have bought a home in Forest Heights that they share with old friends from Ethiopia. They are involved with their church community. In the fall, Workenesh and Cathy Welburn worked on her ‘story’ with a theatre group doing The Shoe Project. She was able to write up her story of coming to Canada and dealing with COVID and to practice performing it over the summer, and it has been recorded on their website–Theshoeproject.org or theshoeproject.online –just look for Calgary writers (normally it would be performed at One Yellow Rabbit). Workenesh and Cathy still like sharing email and phone conversations for English.
Our Iraqi friends. Karen Wyllie talked to Pinar a few weeks ago, and reports that, during the pandemic, it has been hard for her to find work using the Food Services training she received at Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association a year ago. But for 3 months, since mid-November, she has been working at Costco as a food demonstrator for two 6-hour shifts per week. She’d like more hours, but she was happy to get the job. She was told that they would be cutting back staff in March, but she hopes that she will still be able to work some hours. Pinar has been accepted into a childcare training course through Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association that starts in March. She wants to improve her English and thinks that being in the course will help her with that. She says the boys are doing fine. Like other children during the pandemic, they had some schooling on-line but are back to in-person schooling. She’s happy that they’re back to in-person school. At one point Abode was offered the choice of on-line or in-person schooling and chose the in-person option. Tareq has been applying for jobs and is continuing to do delivery work part-time. They have all been healthy as far as we know. Help with job search seems to be their biggest need.
The Syrian family. Marah, Ramadan and Mahmoud in Lebanon and their relatives here in Calgary are also well. They have had their interview at the Canadian Embassy in Beirut, but had no news about further progress on their immigration as of a month ago.
The Irani man. Toomas was contacted a few weeks ago by the Canadian Embassy in Tehran, asking for some informational updates to his file. He has not yet received an interview appointment, but since they have begun reviewing his file, we are hopeful that he will receive one shortly.
The Eritrean family. We have had no recent contact with them or their family members here in Calgary, but our application to sponsor them was approved in October 2020. The next step is for them to be interviewed at the Canadian Embassy in Israel.
Many thanks to all of you for your continued interest and support!
Refugee Sponsorship Committee