Thursday, November 16, 2017

Update November 2017

Sending a huge thank you to everyone who supported Honada and Said's wonderful Syrian Supper. They were very pleased to be able to share their cuisine with so many of you. On our way home, Honada kept saying, "I'm so happy!" They hope that one day they can open a Syrian restaurant, so the dinner(s) are helping them build up experience toward their goal. I am waiting for photos and will send some along when they are forwarded to me. Thanks to Blanka for taking photos and for pitching in with dish washing at the end of the evening! 

Announcement for our next dinner:

Honada's (Next) Syrian Supper

January 26th, doors open at 5:30pm.
St. Agnes Anglican Church; 530 12th St. E, North Vancouver.

Please pass on the invitation to anyone who might like to come. 

To purchase tickets, go to Search Honada's Syrian Supper. This is open to anyone and everyone. 
The ticket sales will be closed two days before the event. 

Anyone who does not want to use the site is welcome to contact me for tickets. 

Bukhari continues to do well. All medical issues have settled down and are mostly dealt with. 

He has been studying hard to pass his LINC Level 3 test and we are waiting to hear the outcome. He was to receive the test, written in Braille, so this is a new experience for him. He continues to practice his mobility skills, to be able to get around independently, with only his cane and his wits. He is now completely independent within VCC and is working with a trainer from CNIB and an assistant to learn to get to and from VCC by himself. This is no easy feat, given that there is a roundabout, many sloping sidewalks (difficult to feel with a cane), and trees in the middle of the sidewalk to his apartment! Who knew there were so many obstacles? He is working hard and accomplishing a great deal on the road to independence.

Mambo's brother: Some of you may remember that REST has entered into a co-sponsorship with a wonderful man named Mambo, who is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). We applied to bring Mambo's brother and his brother's three children; one is a young adult, one a teen, and one is 4 or 5 years old. They have been scheduled for their interviews in December, so their application is moving along nicely. We hope to meet them next year! 

Best wishes to you all. 

Shannon Muir
REST Coordinator

Monday, April 17, 2017

Spring Update for REST

Good morning everyone!

Things are going very well with Honada, Said, and their children and with Bukhari. 

Bukhari has a new caregiver now, a young Somali man who has been in Canada for 8 years named Mohamed. Mohamed's dream is to become an RCMP officer. However, when he came to Canada, he entered Grade 11 and then had to leave school at the end of Grade 11 in order to provide for his family. He has been working since then. With his new job, supporting Bukhari, and the help of Cynthia Bunbury, he has been able to get enrolled at VCC to do adult upgrading courses, so that he can get a high school certificate. We are working with St. Phillips Anglican church in Dunbar (they are sponsoring Said's Niece and her family) to give him a scholarship for tuition from St. Philips. The other thing that Mohamad needs is Canadian citizenship. There is now a $600 fee to apply for citizenship and Cynthia and I are hoping to provide that for him from our REST account. 

Back to Bukhari! He has finally gotten in to English courses at VCC! This has been a struggle because the LINC classes (Government provides these for newcomers) were not adapted for visually impaired. Cynthia has nagged the folks at VCC on and off for this entire time and finally they have admitted him. We find it hard to imagine how refugees with no sponsors are able to get services. It seems that you must fight, or at least phone repeatedly, for every service that you need. So, Bukhari is now taking English, Computers, and Braille. He is working hard. The biggest hurdles for him are his fear of doing new things, as a blind person, and he gets very lonely at times. Mohamed is with him during the week, but he goes home to his family on weekends, so Bukhari has a lot of time to himself. If there are a couple of people who would be interested in visiting, taking him out somewhere, or taking him on Sunday evenings to a blind sport called Goalball, please let me know. He would love to have more visitors. Do not worry about what to say, he will talk your ear off :)

Honada's Kitchen!

Honada has been starting up her own catering business, with the help of Tillat, a wonderful woman who is part of our group. She now has her Foodsafe Certificate and would like you all to know that she came first in the class for her test! She is an excellent cook and cooking makes her very happy and proud. She has done a couple of dinners for 40 people and finger foods for 120! She has a full menu and price list, which can be sent out to anyone interested in booking with her. As she does not have a vehicle, orders must be picked up from her home. 

Honada's kitchen is now trying something new. She is offering Friday Family Dinners, starting this week. The cost is $12 per person, and you can order for 2 people or more. Tillat is going to work with Honada on some menus, so that she can offer Dinner A, B, C, etc, but for the moment, she will begin with her own choice of Syrian items, ready for you at 5pm at Honada's house. Please let me know if you would like to order. I guarantee, it is delicious! 

Best wishes to everyone from your REST team!

Shannon Muir
REST Coordinator

Monday, February 27, 2017

Update END of February 2017

Hello everyone and good bye to February!

Thank you all for your continuing support, prayers, funds, and help! We have done a LOT together in one year.

A huge Thank You to St. Agnes Church for the funds raised at the "Gala on 12th". Another huge thank you to the Grade 7 class of Blueridge Elementary school, who selected REST as one of the four charities they selected for money they raised. What an amazing thing for this fantastic Grade 7 class to do. We will use your money wisely for those who need it most. 

Honada, Said, and their kids have now moved into their new suite near Carson Graham school. This is a much more central location, so very practical for them. The kids are now settled into their new schools and doing well. It turns out, Ibrahim's aide at school is a woman who used to be the church secretary at St. Agnes Church! Small world.

Said now has full time employment, doing construction work in West Vancouver. This is what he had always wanted and he is very proud to be providing for the family. Honada has been doing some catering for friends, providing her fabulous Syrian home cooking. The reviews have been excellent! Tillat and Farooq are currently helping her get her Foodsafe certification and then we will put out a menu to the group, in case you would like to order up something yummy! 

Bukhari is doing well at VCC. We have had some hiccups in finding support for him, but we now have a wonderful young Somali man who is working with him to develop independence. This young man, named Mohamed, is planning to move to Edmonton with his family in September, so he has a vested interest in making sure Bukhari is ready to live on his own. They are living and working very well together. Mohamed has excellent English and is very thoughtful and kind. 

Bukhari has a delightful classmate from VCC named Sam, who is a young woman who is blind and is from Iran. She seems to be absolutely fearless and hopes to become a lawyer here. She has a university degree from Iran and amazing computer skills. She is helping Bukhari with learning his computer and phone skills for blind people. He also has a woman named Nadia who is providing English tutoring twice a week.

Bukhari's hopes for the future include getting a job, if we can find something that can fit around his school schedule, and then once his English is strong enough, he would really like to attend a program that would give him skills to make a living and for him to be able to help his family back in Somalia. Unfortunately, the LINC English classes are not adapted for people with visual impairment, even at VCC, where they have a program for visually impaired people! 

We continue to work through various specialist appointments for all of the folks we are supporting and hope that they are able to have stable health in the near future. 

Best wishes to everyone and thank you for all of your ongoing support.

Shannon Muir
Coordinator REST

Gala on 12th a Huge Sucess

Thursday, December 29, 2016

REST 2017 in Review

REST 2017 Year End Review       
What an exciting year we have had in North Vancouver. Here are some highlights:
Honada, Said, Nour, Ahmad and Ibrahim arrived in January.
·         Honada and Said have worked hard at improving their English through LINC classes, provided at North Shore Multicultural Society and with the support of a team of drivers and tutors.
·         All of the kids have settled beautifully into school, with both schools advocating for appropriate levels of support for Nour and Ibrahim. Both kids have now been assessed by a Psychologist and we are waiting for her report.
·         All of the kids have been treated by dentists and doctors, with both Nour and Ahmad being seen be specialists. Ibrahim will go to Children’s hospital in the New Year to finish off his dental treatment.
·         Both Nour and Honada have had gall bladder surgery and are recovering nicely.
·         Said has gained Canadian work experience, working with Balraj Singh on house building and remodeling.
·         Said has received a full set of dentures and now has a handsome and comfortable set of teeth!
·         5 birthday parties!
·         A great deal of paperwork, including housing applications, permanent resident cards, health services, and many more.
·         Dealt with a robbery and a basement flood!

Still in the works:
·         Finding long-term housing by the end of January and helping the family move. They are looking for a 2 or 3 bedroom place and hope to stay in their current neighborhood.
·         Finding full time work for Said and part time work for Honada.
·         Getting a driver’s license for Said. He now has proof of driving record, but we are trying to get a copy of the Driver training guide in Arabic so that he can pass the written test. Then he needs a few lessons and can take his full license.

Bukhari arrived!
·         Thanks to the careful attention of Wilna and Dave Parry and to Amyn, Bukhari had a very soft landing in Canada, had amazingly quick visits to the dentist, doctors, and CNIB, and got registered for classes for the visually impaired at VCC.
·         We have now hired a part-time, live-in caregiver named Max, and moved both men into a very nice apartment in Vancouver, walking distance to VCC.
·         Bukhari is working hard to learn Braille, how to use a talking computer, how to use his talking iPhone, English, and white cane skills. On top of all of that, he is learning to navigate his new apartment and live as independently as he can.

Congolese family application:
·         We have officially applied to sponsor a Congolese man named Malis and his three children. Malis is the brother of a wonderful man named Mambo, friend of Wilna Parry. Mambo is a settlement worker in the Burnaby schools and will be working with us to settle his family members near his home in Surrey. We do not know how long it will take to receive them in Vancouver, but we hope it will happen quickly!

Co-Sponsorship with Gulnar Carlisle:
·         We have been working closely with Gulnar, who has completed the sponsorship application for Asmaa and Ahmad and their 3 children. Ahmad is the brother of Said and the whole family is very excited to see them again. There were several hold-ups in the processing of this application, but it is all in the works now and we hope they will be able to come to us soon. Gulnar has now gone to visit the family in the refugee camp in Lebanon!  Now she has seen firsthand that the conditions are quite terrible and this will weigh heavily on Gulnar and all of us who wish we could help more people, more quickly.

Our group set a goal of raising $75,000 to provide support for Bukhari and for Honada and Said’s family. The total funds raised is now $111,064!!!!! Included in that amount is a bequest of $20,000 that was received just before Christmas. This bequest was given by an Anglican woman in North Vancouver who is no longer able to volunteer in her church, as she had for many years, but who wants to see her funds put to good use in the service of others. She knew that REST had purposely sponsored refugees with significant medical needs and hoped that her gift would help to provide for those challenges.
A huge round of applause goes out to all of you who have participated in so many fundraisers, made requests of your friends and family, and sent in your own funds to support this wonderful cause. Yes, we are making a difference in the world and we will keep doing it with your amazing support! Your time, treasure and talents have made so much possible in one year.

This year has been very busy and very rewarding. A HUGE  THANK YOU to all of you who have provided support with your prayers, your funds and fundraising, your driving, your patience, your services, and your kindness toward our new Canadians. An extra big thankyou goes to the amazing team of translators who have provided such caring and patient support in Arabic, Swahili and Somali.

Best wishes for a wonderful New Year. Please keep all refugees in your thoughts and prayers.

Shannon Muir
REST Coordinator

If anyone needs a new year happy story, here is a link about refugees brought to Guelph, sent to me by Susan Jasper. Thanks Susan!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

November 2016 Update

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This is Ibrahim's class. He is the very scary Gorilla at the front! 

The kids had a wonderful Halloween. Cynthia was able to take them to her stash of drama costumes and I understand the results were all excellent. 

Thank you to everyone who helped make Nour's 18th birthday such a success. She clearly did feel that she was belle of the ball. 

Ibrahim wanted to have a quieter affair. He will turn 12 tomorrow! The family came to my home for a birthday supper this evening and he enjoyed the company of my large dogs MUCH more than his sister did. 

The family is all in good spirits and actually looking forward to their move into a more permanent home. That will take place some time over the next couple of months. Lisa Lauze is getting ready to sell the house that she so kindly offered for them to live in. We hope she gets an excellent price. It is a lovely place in a super neighborhood. Applications have been submitted for social housing in the area, but we realize this is a long shot. We have our eye on some apartments that are in the neighborhood and would allow the kids to maintain their school connections. 

Said is now available for full time work. He has been working off and on for two contractors on the north shore, but neither one has regular employment for him. If anyone spots a job opening for a hard working, handy, friendly, wonderful Syrian man, please let us know. It would be really great if we could find him something that has benefits for the family. 

This young man has been to very many doctors and a dentist in his short time in Canada. Great news- his teeth are perfect! His eyes are not. 

He is now working on learning to use a white cane so that he can eventually be more independent. He is gradually learning all of the amazing things his iPhone can do. Apple devices have accessibility features that make them amazing for people with vision impairments and he is learning to use something called Voice Over. Apple offers training sessions on how to use it and he will need many of these to learn all of the features! 

Bukhari starts his VCC classes this week! He will be learning Braille, English, and how to use a speaking computer. He will go Monday-Thursday and until we find him accommodation closer to VCC, we need to have people who can drive him to and from. If there is anyone who is able to drive to VCC (Broadway Campus) for 9am or home around 3pm, please get in touch with Cynthia Bunbury ( and ask her to add you to the roster. This should be a short term arrangement.

Thanks again for all of your ongoing support and patience with our refugees and with us coordinators! Having so many people to share the work makes this all work. 

Happy November!

Shannon Muir
REST Coordinator

Monday, October 3, 2016

A little update on our delightful young man Bukhare. These photos show him all dressed up and ready to go to Friday prayers at the Mosque. Quite dashing, isn't he? Also, Bukhare loves to iron! He jokingly calls himself "Ironman". Wilna got him all set up to do this and he loves being helpful. Everyone who meets him is impressed by Bukhare's delightful energetic nature and good humour. He has let us know that the spelling of his name on ALL of his documents is incorrect. This is the way they spell the name in Nairobi, but not in Somalia. We will work on trying to get it rectified on his official documents. 

Bukhare has been told his teeth are in excellent condition! No cavities! He is gradually making his way through his doctor and specialist appointments. Unfortunately, it does NOT look hopeful for him to regain any sight, but at least the doctors should be able to reduce the ongoing pain he has in his eyes. 

We had many offers of iPhones, which is wonderful. I have set up his phone with an accessibility feature called VoiceOver, which talks through all of the actions on the iPhone. This is build in to all apple products. It is great, except that it is quite difficult to get used to! Just as much for Bukhare as for the rest of us. All the ways we are used to accessing smart phones are different with use of VoiceOver. The great thing is that Bukhare can hear us getting frustrated with it and know he is not alone! If anyone is trying it, there are three features to use: one tap of the item will what you have tapped. You ALWAYS have to select first with one tap, then a fast double tap selects that item. This means that every item you want requires 3 taps to open that button. Typing is 3 taps per letter/number. The other "gesture" is to swipe the screen in any direction, you use 3 fingers. Sounds easy, but we are remarkably set in our ways with these devices! An additional issue for Bukhare is that he must do all 3 taps in exactly the same spot. If he moves his finger a little, he will not make the selection. He will need a system of figuring out how far from the edge of the phone he needs to hold his finger. Tricky!

A huge thank you to everyone for your ongoing visiting. He loves all of the stimulation and is enjoying getting to know all of his new Canadian Mamas! 

When visiting, a couple of things to keep in mind: Bukhare is a devout Muslim and so he is uncomfortable with touching women. He is now very comfortable with shaking hands and he will take your elbow easily. He may be somewhat standoffish with young women, but he is just being respectful. He also warms up very quickly. Also, he is very afraid of dogs. Since he can't see them approach, this is an extra issue. 


Our family is doing very well. I have found a wonderful Psychologist who will do some educational assessment for Nour and Ibrahim. We are still waiting for Children's Hospital to get them in for their testing their. Because neither one has any diagnosis, this makes retaining services for them in the schools more tricky. Also, as Nour is turning 18 this month (!), she will soon be transitioning to adult services. Without any diagnosis, she cannot access adult funding or the services that are available, such as Community Social Groups and Handidart. We are currently beginning the search for long term housing for our family. We are applying to Co-ops in the area as well as BC Housing. We hope to keep them in the same area of town, in order to keep the kids in the same schools. Said has been getting quite a lot of building work with Raj Hundal, a lovely man who is a plumber and contractor on the north shore. A huge thanks to Raj for all of his support and help in teaching Said how things are done in Canada. 

Said's brother and his family: We are still working on getting their application through the workings of the government. This is NOT an easy matter. The first submission was somehow lost in the system. It was resubmitted, then a month later we received word that they did not like the quality of something in the package, so it has been submitted again. Asmaa and Ahmad (Said's sister-in-law and brother) are feeling very desperate in the refugee camp, but there is not much we can do but wait. 


Saber is our young Iraqi man. We have finally had word that his application has been officially accepted by the Canadian Government. We do not know what this means in terms of timeline, but at least it is working away through the system. He too is frustrated with the wait, but at least we have been able to give him a bit of good news. Joanne has been pushing this forward whenever possible- well done Joanne and our diocesan SAH team! 

Last, but not least, we continue to look forward and continue to raise funds for all of these wonderful people we are helping. Your donations and fund raising efforts are SO appreciated and we are able stretch every dollar because of all the donations and volunteer help we have. 

So far, we have raised......


What an amazing team! 

Of course, we don't want to stop now, we are on a roll and we want to continue to do more as there are so many people who need our help. Our next plan is to help a small family we have identified who are from the Congo. This is Malis Malingo and his two teenaged children. His wife and two other children have disappeared. Malis' older brother Mambo lives here and is ready to manage their settlement. He has also scraped together $6000 to go toward their sponsorship. 

The Saturday is the SASS Refugee Barn Dance. Get your tickets and come on down for some fun and fundraising! 

Very soon, I am planning to put together a Pamper Yourself Evening. Anyone can come and get a haircut, fingernails painted or henna hand treatment by donation. Perhaps we will have a teahouse as well! Stay tuned for details. 

The St. Agnes Gala date has been changed to early February 4 due to ongoing kitchen renovation. This will be an awesome evening with delicious food, live entertainment, and awesome live and silent auctions. Please let me know if you have items to donate to the silent auction or know a business that would be interested in donating. 

Please let me know if there are other fundraisers planned. 

Keep up the great work everyone, you are making a very important difference in the world through REST. We are helping those we can to have a new lease on life. How great is that?