Lifeline Syria challenge - Team Math & Stats

We are a group of friends with connections to the Mathematics and Statistics department at York University.  Many of us are immigrants to Canada ourselves and feel especially grateful for the quality of life that we have here.  The urgency of this crisis has encouraged us to act to sponsor a family.

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We are participating in the Lifeline Syria Challenge with York University and Ryerson University.  York University's participation in the GTA-wide Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge is part of its comprehensive approach to the global refugee crisis. Please take a moment to learn more about what the York University community is doing to support Syrian and other refugees at www.osgoode.yorku.ca/refugees .

Diary:

February 7, 2016- This web page is posted and we are still looking for more people interested in helping out.  Our donation page is now live.  The minimum amount that we need to raise to bring support a refugee family in Canada for one year seems to be $27K.  We are looking to raise around $40K to more realistically support a family in the GTA for one year.

February 15, 2016- After our official launch we managed to recruit a few more faculty members and grad students from the math department.

February 29, 2016- We recently found out that we have managed to raise $5,160 to date.  Time to double down on raising funds.  We are planning on meeting this upcoming weekend to start working on our settlement plan.

March 6, 2016- We met this evening and talked mostly about our fundraising goals as well as appointed people to be in charge of researching the settlement plan and working on communication.  We also got a fundraising update +$3K this week.  Thermometer!

March 14, 2016- Happy π Day!  We raised another $2K on last week's update.  We are now 1/4 of our way to our goal.

March 21, 2016- We've passed the half way mark!  Still a ways to go but the plan is to reach out to more people than just our core group.

March 31, 2016- We have not received fundraising amounts this week, probably because of the Easter holiday. About a week ago (3/24/16) the team leads received an email saying that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is imposing caps on numbers of sponsored refugees will be allowed. As a consequence we thought this would imply that we may be waiting a while before we end up sponsoring a family. It wasn't particularly clear what this might mean because we are thinking that it will be another month or so before we were close to our fundraising goal. Then at 11:30am we received an email saying that on March 30 there was a meeting held by government officials and they lifted the caps until 5pm on March 31. If we were ready, we could request to sponsor a family. As a consequence, Martin filled out the paperwork by 4:30pm and indicated that we would like to sponsor "a family of 4." Updates to come.

April 2, 2016- The last update we got from RULSC said "What I recommend to you then as team leads is that you be as ready as possible within your group for the coming week to accept a case to be matched with quickly if it is able to be offered to you. It would help to have your settlement plan ready and a group consensus that you want to proceed." Fortunately we had planned to meet this coming Sunday so we can move to be ready. We also got access to latest totals and we are above $27K.

April 10, 2016- We had our team meeting last weekend.  We assigned major group tasks.  We also talked about reaching out to our networks of friends and family to get a bit more funding.  The last update I had, we had reached $29,700.  The larger group is about 20 people and so we have divided into three (oddly named: C*, AA and AAA) subgroups and figured that of the remaining amount each needed to come up with around $4.3K.  Thanks to all those that have given so far!

April 21, 2016- We are doing ok on the fundraising, and slowly climbing towards that $40K goal.  We are now at $31,250.  Thanks everyone.  The big news is that we were contacted yesterday by RULSC to say that they had a match for us.  We have a meeting this coming Sunday to discuss.

thermometer9April 27, 2016- This week's total is $32,155.  We had our group meeting on Sunday to review our plans and approve to go ahead with the match.  Right now we don't have much to go on other than a very short one line description: "Single male in late twenties. Has experience working in retail and sales."  Four of the group went to a meet and greet for RULSC and we learned a lot.

We have been sending out emails with donation instructions, but I've now created a page which is easier to send a link rather than including all the instructions.

May 12, 2016- We learned the name of the refugee we would be sponsoring this past week and that he has an uncle in Toronto who referred him to Lifeline Syria.  We plan to get in contact with the uncle over the next week and we will have our next group meeting on May 22.  We received some generous donations this last week and are up to $34,775.  Thank you donors!

August 25, 2016- I haven't put up much of an update over the last months because the story of our sponsorship has been evolving slowly, but because of the long gap a lot has developed and there is a lot to tell.

We learned that the refugee we would be sponsoring is in Saudi Arabia and that he has a brother who is waiting to leave Egypt.  Both have applied to immigrate to Canada.  They may not come exactly on the same timeline but we hope that it is close enough and we are looking into the possibility of housing them together.  One of our group members visited Saudi Arabia this summer and was able to meet him in person.  The full story is a little too long to tell here, but here is a quote from the report that we received:

"He is working in a pet store in the marine section legally and it does not pay a lot of money, just enough to keep afloat. He has legal status in Saudi but not much of a future work wise and stability as it is very hard to improve his work and income here. In the past he did try partnering with a Saudi local guy and was running a tiny clothing store but he got scammed and lost his money."

Our group was contacted by the York Lifeline Syria organization to sponsor a second family!  A student at York has a cousin who managed to escape to Malaysia on a tourist visa.  We submitted the paperwork for a second group of five sponsorship at the end of June and we have acknowledgement from the government that the paperwork is received.  We had a group meeting at the beginning of August and a relative who lives here told us about the challenges they are facing in finding some stability and source of income in Malaysia.  The family had an appointment scheduled with the UNHRC to be granted refugee status but the last we heard Malaysia has asked the UN to stop issuing these cards to people in the country.

The donation portal is closing August 31 and we are looking for any last donations people are willing to make.  All the money we raise will go directly to improving the lives of refugees the first year that they are here and if there is any money left over after that year is over the plan is to use it to reimburse the travel debt that the refugees will have.

(Feb 14, 2017) Silence on this page has only meant that there has been not too much to report.  We have been meeting roughly monthly since last year, but December and January we had a pause because we had been busy and there wasn't much to discuss.  Of course the political news from the U.S. at the end of January unsettled everyone, but made us more resolved to do what we can.

The brother of the first person we are sponsoring arrived as a refugee in December and we just met him at our meeting Feb 12.  We have been in contact with an MP and his office gave us news that indicates that our first sponsorship case will receive official word soon.  We were hoping that they would arrive on similar timelines, but his brother was in Egypt while the person we are sponsoring was in Saudi Arabia.

We are more concerned about the family that we are sponsoring that is trapped in Malaysia.  The current processing times listed on the CIC website for a refugee applying from Malaysia to Canada is 53 months.  We have decided to contact our MPs directly and to ask them to work to reduce these numbers.

(May 20, 2017) The first refugee that our group will sponsor will arrive!  Its been a long wait since we were matched back in May 2016.  Updates to come.