Bathurst United Church is looking for donations, including financial and volunteers, to help a young Syrian medical student start a new life in Canada.
The 25-year-old woman is currently living incognito in Turkey. She started medical school there in August 2016 after learning Turkish. She has completed five years of a seven-year program toward becoming an M.D.
The woman’s sexual orientation is LGBTQ2S. She left her homeland, on her own, to escape persecution. Canada has recognized her as a UN Convention refugee. For this article, we are withholding the woman’s name to protect her personal security.
Bathurst is seeking to sponsor the woman through the United Church of Canada refugee sponsorship agreement with the federal government. Some of the funds will come from Rainbow Refugee, an LGBTQ2S advocacy group based in Vancouver. The group has partnered with Ottawa to help people from the LGBTQ2S community resettle in Canada. The Bathurst congregation is taking responsibility for raising further money and for helping the woman settle in once she is here.
The United Church and Citizenship, Refugees and Immigration Canada have approved the sponsorship in principle. They’re now waiting for confirmation that the congregation has a resettlement plan in place along with the required support funds.
One of the congregation leaders, Jasper Miller, says Bathurst United must have at least $12,600 dollars in the bank to cover living expenses for up to a year. So far, almost half of that has been raised.
Miller says he aims to submit the plan as soon as possible so that the authorities can work on giving the young woman clearance to travel.
The congregation must also make initial arrangements for lodging. That means securing a place where the newcomer can live while supporters work with the person to find longer-term accommodation.
As well, volunteers are needed to handle logistics--from being part of a welcoming group at the airport to helping the refugee fill in forms to receive things like a health card or TTC pass. The woman speaks English.
If you would like to volunteer, please contact Jasper Miller, care of the Bathurst Street United Church office.
Contributions to the living expenses fund can be made by cheque or online at Canada Helps. Cheques should be mailed to the church office and made payable to Bathurst Street United Church. People who give 20 dollars or more will receive a tax receipt.
Miller says he’s not sure how soon the woman might arrive once the resettlement plan is approved. But it’s his understanding that she wants to leave Turkey as soon as possible.