Sunday, January 5, 2020

Happy New Year and Huge Thank Yous!

Once again, I send a big thank you to everyone who has helped to continue our sponsorships through REST. We are able to make a big difference for the people that we sponsor and change their lives forever, sharing our wonderful country with these wonderful newcomers. 

Two Christmas Miracles for REST:

A beautiful concert was held at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church, just before Christmas, with the North Shore Wind Ensemble providing wonderful holiday music. The church was packed and the concert was excellent. The proceeds from this concert were split between REST and the Lookout Shelter. Thank you Tak Maeda for making this happen! 

A group called Karibu raised funds over the holidays and decided to donate it to REST for a future sponsorship of two young women, one of whom has a young daughter. These women are the adult daughters of Malis, who we co-sponsored previously. They are currently in Uganda in a camp there and the family hopes to be reunited. The Karibu group was able to raise almost 6400$ toward their sponsorship! This money, combined with donations from the family and from the Christmas Concert totals just over 11,000$. We will need to raise another 10,000$ to be able to provide for them for 1 year. We are well on our way!

Malis and his three younger children are doing well in Surrey, with Malis working very hard in his job at a recycling depot. Malis continues to struggle with transportation, as he must take a taxi and a long bus ride- taking 1.5 hrs each way to and from work. He is determined and a very hard worker. He has this job because the boss speaks French, as Malis does. Malis has been working toward getting his driver's licence in his small amount of free time. If anyone hears of a car in good working order, that could be donated to the family, please let me know. A tax receipt could be provided for the value of the car. 

Mousa has settled in well. He will begin English classes next week. There was no intake fro English classes before Christmas, so he had to wait until January. He is excited to start, but we send a big thank you to Sally and Thomas for providing weekly English lessons. He has looked forward to every one. 

Neema is working hard in her English lessons and settling well in Surrey. She has faced a big culture shock with coming to Canada and the support of her family as well as her courage and determination are seeing her through.

Thanks to everyone for your ongoing support. Best wishes for a happy and interesting 2020!

Shannon Muir
Coordinator REST

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Update 2019!

REST has been very busy over the last two years, even though I have not published the details here. Here is some of what we have been up to:

The Syrian family we sponsored are well settled, although we continue to provide some support to help with documents, school meetings, and social services. These little injections of support allow them to access all the things we are used to as Canadians and to ensure they understand all of the mounds of paperwork we are used to.

Bukhari, the young blind man from Somalia is doing well. He now has a small job at a restaurant and is hoping to find more work soon. He is also hoping to get into social housing, but it is a very slow process to get into social housing here. There just isn't enough. He can navigate a variety of bus routes now and uses his white cane very well.

Saber, the young man from Iraq has now finished his year of sponsorship. An amazing lady named Joanne also brought his parents and they are settled nicely in Burnaby/Coquitlam area. Saber has a job working in an upholstery shop and is doing well at learning English and integrating while helping his elderly parents.

Malis and his 3 youngest children came from Democratic Republic of the Congo, in a joint sponsorship with his brother, Mambo. Mambo and other family members have done all of the settlement work for the family and they have been wonderfully supported to become independent. They have completed their year of settlement now. Malis has two older daughters, Chance and Lidine and one granddaughter, Lidine's 9 year old daughter Julie, who are still in a refugee camp in Uganda. Malis' daughter who came to Canada with him has put her dreams of becoming a police officer on hold so that she can work in a factory to earn money to bring her sisters and her niece. Her younger brothers are in school and doing well.

Malis works very hard to support his family and he primarily speaks French. He was able to to get a job at a recycling plant that is quite far from his house, so he spends approximately 1.5 hours every day to get to work and the same time to get home. This involves taking a taxi to a bus. It is extremely tiring for Malis and the taxi plus transit takes up a lot of his income. We are searching for a donation of a used car for Malis. He now has a driving license and he and his son together can pay for the insurance. If anyone hears of a car in good repair, that is looking for a loving home, please let us know.

Image result for car clip art ????????????

Neema arrived in May of 2019. She is the adopted daughter of Mambo, who is in the center of the picture above. Neema is co-sponsored by Mambo. She fled the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and was at great risk in a refugee camp in Uganda before she arrived. She is settling in and learning English as quickly as she can. She is eager to work, but has agreed to focus on her English skills first.

Mousa: the latest arrival to Canada with REST! He arrived in October 2019. He is a 21 year old Palestinian man from Syria. His family owned a restaurant in Syria and he dreams of having his own restaurant in Canada one day. Mousa is eager to work and learn English. Because of the holidays, he has had to wait to get his English classes started, but he will begin in January. He is learning quite quickly anyway and we are gradually getting all of his dental, medical and government appointments completed. He is very happy to be in Canada and to have opportunities for his future. However, the situation for his family who are still in a Lebanese refugee camp is not good, so that is difficult for him.

Mousa has now come to church, carved a jack-o-lantern, applied for a job, helped to put up Halloween and Christmas decorations, and is getting ready for his first Christmas!

Those of us involved with REST are very pleased to be able to do this work. All of the people we have supported are wonderful additions to the fabric of Canada. If you are interested in donating funds to help us continue this work, please send any donations to:

St. Agnes Anglican Church
530 12th St. E.
North Vancouver, BC V7L 2K4
Any donations over 20$ will receive a tax receipt, which will be mailed out within a month of receipt.

All donations received go directly to support of refugees and newcomers to Canada.

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!