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Aleksa Harkness, for the James Bay Refugee Initiative Steering Committee
Update March 26, 2020
If you heard an exuberant “Woo hoo” the morning of March 16th, it was likely the ecstatic response from the James Bay Refugee Initiative to a long-anticipated letter from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Ahmad, beloved husband of Leyla (the first refugee JBUC helped sponsor in 2017), had moved successfully through all the hoops and would ordinarily be expected to arrive in Victoria in 4-10 weeks.
The discouraging and not unexpected news is that for all refugees outside Canada, flight assignments will be delayed until further notice in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. That was very difficult to hear so soon after the exciting letter from the IRCC.
We in the James Bay Refugee Initiative are using this extra time to continue deepening our friendship with Ahmad whom we already know to be a generous and compassionate man with a deep yearning for justice for displaced and marginalized people wherever they are in the world.
For instance, when we told Ahmad about the Palestinian dates we had purchased through Kathy Putt, his response was “This is generosity. With this step, you know the world about courage and morals. And because you feel for others, this is proof that we will come today to eat dates together in peace.”
For Judy and for me, Joyce Willems is inextricably woven into the fabric of Ahmad’s sponsorship. Perhaps 6 weeks ago she phoned us to ask “If I give more money to refugee sponsorship, will Ahmad get here sooner?” The answer was “sadly, no.” We received the news about Ahmad’s arrival only 10 days after Joyce’s passing and feel sad we were not able to share the good news in person with Joyce. Nevertheless, we are certain Joyce, through the mystery of God’s love, knows and is celebrating!
We are immensely grateful for your support and would ask you to continue to keep Ahmad and Leyla in your prayers.
The last word came from Ahmad this week, a message of thanks to you:
“Hello everyone: I am very sorry that I did not communicate with those who supported me and were credited with and assisted in coming to Canada. In the Church and with those responsible for my arrival in Canada, you have moral, material and prayer support in order to be beside my wife, Leyla. This is a great human, moral and religious work. Currently, I can only express my great thanks for what you have provided and in the future I will stand with you for those who need such help. And I hope that you will be fine in these difficult times when the world passes by. We must all of all religions and places in the world be one hand in order to overcome this global epidemic because what is happening is the message of eligibility to remind us to stand together against the destruction of the earth and to preserve the life of people to live safely. Thank you, and God willing, I will see you in the best conditions and to be among you in Canada the country of love and peace.”