Athabasca Interfaith Refugee Sponsorship Society 2016

For: AIRSS Sponsorship Group of 10 from Africa
Athabasca, AB, Canada
Organizer: Athabasca Interfaith Refugee Sponsorship Society AIRSS
Athabasca Interfaith Refugee Sponsorship Society 2016 (AIRSS Sponsorship Group of 10 from Africa)
of $58,500 goal
100% Complete
Raised by 127 donors

The Story


Athabasca Interfaith Refugee Sponsorship Society (AIRSS) is actively engaged in the process to sponsor a group of 9 refugees from Eastern Congo, one of the most war-torn regions of the world. The group of nine is comprised of 2 families, and includes 6 children and 3 adults.  The young families are currently in a refugee camp and, for security reasons, their location is not being identified. 

These families are resilient, hardworking people who need our help.  Both families are led by young women who are physically disabled, and who have faced incredible challenges in their own lives, but who have worked hard to provide for their families and to try to keep them safe for years.  They have fled their home country multiple times, in search of safety, faced tragic losses along the way (one little girl lost her life), and desperately need a chance to rebuild their lives again.

AIRSS is preparing for the arrival and resettlement of the families in Canada.  The group will be settled in our community and we will be there to support them every step of the way.  The funds we are raising will allow AIRSS to take responsibility for the basic necessities of life for at least the first year in the country.  The amount we are fundraising is based on the Canadian Government's financial formula for sponsorship support.  The formula suggests we need $58, 500 (Canadian dollars or approximately $44, 000 USD) in either pledges, cash, or "donations in kind" for our new families. Being able to show that we have raised this amount is a requirement and essential to our sponsorship application.

All refugees need support when they first arrive in a new country.  They arrive in a new place with virtually no material possessions and must work hard to learn a new language, adjust to a new culture, and gain skills which are transferable to jobs in their new country.  AIRSS makes it possible for this to happen by taking on responsibility for their basic necessities of life for at least the first year.  This includes covering the cost of housing, food, and transportation for the first year or until they are able to cover such costs themselves.  It has been our experience that our refugee families work hard to start providing an income for themselves as quickly as possible, and the support from AIRSS provides a necessary bridge to build that success.

By donating you are helping provide a path to safety and hope for 9 of the most at-risk people in the world.  AIRSS is a non-profit organization and all funds raised will be used for the needs of this group of 9 as they resettle in Canada.  If, by any chance, they do not need all of the funds, or if the application for sponsorship of this particular group is not granted by the Canadian government, remaining funds will be used for the resettlement of another group of refugees. 

There is also the possibility that funds may be needed to provide essential services in Uganda to complete all the components of the application, such as translators and or medicals. 

AIRSS has successfully completed two sponsorships in Canada and we are pleased to report they are all wonderful, hardworking Canadians!  Let's give this amazing group of 10 the same chance at a safe and hopeful future. 

Love one another. As I have loved you.. John 13

If you have any questions or would like to get involved please contact [email protected]

While AIRSS is working toward sponsoring these amazing families, they are currently struggling to survive where conditions are difficult and resources are extremely limited.  You can help them provide food and medicine for their families until they are resettled by buying the beautiful work of their hands at SHONA Congo:

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on January 8, 2018

Posted on January 8, 2018

One Month in Canada

As I write this update on January 8th, 2018, it has been one month since our families have arrived in Canada. We are so thankful for this time together and we are so thankful for all of the support. Thanks be to God!

The past month has been a full month of learning about life in Canada, meeting friendly, generous people, learning English, discovering what a cold, snowy winter is like in Northern Alberta, wearing layers of clothes and boots and mittens and toques, tobogganing, exploring our community, learning new things such as how to use a washing machine and dryer, learning how to use electric sewing machines, shopping for groceries, attending church services and special events, playing in the snow, watching hockey games, visiting, using new phones and new technology, being thankful for our Swahili and French interpreters, laughing together as we communicate with each other using actions/gestures and Google translate apps, applauding great progress as our new family members speak English with increasing understanding, cooking together, trying new foods, swimming in a pool, having medical check-ups, learning about Canadian currency and the prices of items, having the first haircuts in Canada, using online English language programs, celebrating together, and so much more!  All of this is possible because of an amazing community of support, providing accommodation, clothing, personal care items, household items, furniture, school supplies, transportation, and everything that is needed for daily living. On top of this is the extensive amount of paperwork to apply for Alberta Health Care and Social Insurance Numbers, to register for English classes and public school, and more!  I know that I have not been able to share everything but I trust this will give you a special glimpse of the past month. With all of this is great love. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Soon, there will be other new experiences…riding a school bus, attending school, getting involved in school activities, taxi rides, and more! 

Our new families have a special place in our hearts and we look forward to the weeks and months ahead, living together in our wonderful community.  

With immense gratitude, much joy, and continued excitement,
Cheryl Balay, President of AIRSS

Posted on December 9, 2017

Posted on December 9, 2017

Our Families are in Canada!!!
Amazing! Wonderful! Emotional! Awestruck! Excited! Joyous! Speechless! These are a few of the words that describe the arrival of our families and meeting with them for the first time. We thank God for the safe arrival of Argentine, Mapendo, Joseph, and their families. We thank all of our supporters, from the very beginning and along the way and into the future.  
Dec 7th, 2017 is the first day of life in Canada for our families and we look forward to getting to know them and living together in Canada. A new adventure begins with much love supporting them.
We continue to be deeply grateful for all the love, prayers, and support. You have helped make a difference in the lives of our precious new Canadians! Thank you!
With immense gratitude, much joy, and great excitement,
Cheryl Balay, President of AIRSS

Posted on November 24, 2017

Posted on November 24, 2017

Very Exciting News!!! Dec 7th Arrival in Canada!!!

It is official! We finally received notification of the official travel plans of our families to come to Canada!!! Thursday, December 7th is the day we have been waiting for. This is the day when our families will be welcomed into our country and our community.

It is an understatement to say that our AIRSS group and our families and friends are very excited about the arrival of Argentine and Mapendo and Joseph and their families! They are amazing individuals!  We are thrilled for all of them to have new homes with safety and peace in Canada. It will be an extremely emotional time when we meet them, as we also think about what they will be leaving behind and as we think about the immense possibilities and opportunities that await them.

So many people have helped us on this journey and we are deeply grateful for all of the support and prayers.

We thank God for all the blessings and the fulfillment of our sponsorship to bring the families to Canada.

With deepest gratitude,

Cheryl Balay, President of AIRSS

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