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.
Raised by 126 donors
100% Complete

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 July 16, 2017

Posted on July 16, 2017

Interview Dates!  

We have wonderful news to share! Argentine and Mapendo and their families have interviews scheduled with a Canadian Visa Officer  in the country where they are currently living. The interviews will take place at the end of the summer. 
We thank God that these interviews have been scheduled in the upcoming weeks. This is the next step that we have been waiting for so we are extremely thankful for everyone's support and all of the advocacy efforts during the past months. 
We will share further news when it is available. Thank you again for your interest and your support.
With deepest appreciation,
Cheryl Balay, President of AIRSS

Posted on June 21, 2017

Posted on June 21, 2017

World Refugee Day
On this World Refugee Day, Tuesday, June 20th, 2017, we think about the refugee families we have sponsored and we celebrate the new lives and the new opportunities they have in Canada. We are thankful for each one of them.

AIRSS will continue to work towards the protection and resettlement of refugees who do not have another durable solution. At this time, we especially think about our current applications to sponsor Argentine and Mapendo and their families. The application and review processes for resettlement take a long time but each day is a step closer. We hope and pray that their applications will be approved very soon.

We are thankful for the wonderful support that we have received. Together we are making a difference!

We join with people around the world as we think about the immense courage of refugees in so many different parts of the world. We also think about the strength and resilience that is needed to survive.  We encourage you to do what you can do to help those in need.

With a very grateful heart and deepest appreciation,

Cheryl Balay, President of AIRSS

Posted on January 15, 2017

Posted on January 15, 2017

We Celebrate Exciting Financial News with our Supporters!

Over the past months, AIRSS has been blessed with successful fundraising, prayers of many people, many donations from our community, family, friends and amazing support from the Shona Congo community, as well as recent generosity beyond our imagination. Today I have some unbelievable news to share!

I am thrilled to announce that we have reached our initial fundraising goal of $58,500. Thanks be to God! When we started this journey, this goal seemed so far away and so difficult to achieve but today we celebrate this amazing milestone with all of you! 

How is this possible? A Shona Congo supporter, who wishes to remain anonymous, has miraculously donated over $33,000 to ensure that we would reach our goal. The donor has told us that this is a gift from God. We are deeply grateful for the generosity of this donor.  

We are overwhelmed and we are deeply grateful to all of our donors, supporters, and fundraisers. On behalf of AIRSS and our families, we thank everyone who made all of this possible. This is truly a day to rejoice! 

In the beginning of this journey, we set our original goal of $58,500 based on the Government of Canada's recommendations for private sponsorship groups. With this amount raised, we have reached the minimum required to provide for the living expenses of our two families until they are self-supporting.  These funds will provide the necessities for them as they focus on the important tasks of learning English and adjusting to life in Canada!

From here we will continue to fund raise beyond this minimum. We recognize that set-up and living expenses for 3 adults with disabilities and 6 children will exceed the basic amount of $58,500. We will continue our fundraising with the benefit of knowing that, thanks to so much generosity, we are well prepared to welcome our families whenever they arrive.

We wish we could also announce that our families will be arriving soon. However, their applications are still being processed so we are still asking for people to help us advocate for quicker processing of the application by contacting our Canadian government officials.

If you haven't already done so, could you please send an email message to our government officials and/or share this opportunity with others? Please see information below for more details about this action item. Also, please note that there is different information for our Canadian supporters and our American supporters. Thank you!

Also, please remember that until the applications are approved, these families must remain as refugees in a neighboring African country where resources are extremely limited and conditions are difficult.  Argentine and Mapendo are paying for rent, health care and food for their families entirely through their sewing with SHONA Congo. You can help them by buying a handcrafted, high quality bag that they have made at  Each bag that you buy provides enough money for one family to eat for 2 days!  Thank you for considering this opportunity to support their work so they can support their families.

With a very grateful heart and deepest appreciation,

Cheryl Balay, President of AIRSS

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