It had taken almost four years, but the day finally arrived. A family was reunited and all were now safe in Canada.
Shakeba Hakam, her husband Mirwis and their four children, along with Shakeba’s sister, Maleha Nejrabi, her husband Ahmad and their four children, arrived in Ottawa on Friday June 17 after a long, and at times delayed, flight from Tajikistan, where they had spent years as refugees from Afghanistan.
They had to leave their homeland due to threats from the Taliban and other ongoing violence directed toward them in part because of their involvement in providing medical assistance during the time Canada and other western nations deployed forces in Afghanistan.
Their family members here in Ottawa had first approached the Kanata Stittsville Refugee Sponsorship Group (KSRSG) in 2012 asking for assistance in sponsoring them as refugees to Canada. The KSRSG has been sponsoring refugees for two decades, and has eight member churches in Sittsville and Kanata. (Kanata, Glen Cairn and Stittsville United, St. John’s South March, St. Paul’s and St. Thomas Anglican and St. Andrew’s and Trinity Presbyterian Churches.)
After months of collecting information and documents, the decision was made to proceed with their sponsorship applications, which were submitted to Citizenship and Immigration Canada through the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa as the KSRSG Sponsorship Agreement Holder.
Though the families received notice almost a year ago that their sponsorship applications had been approved, it took several months to complete the required medical and security checks and have their visas processed by Canadian Immigration officials.
Word came on June 13 that the families would be arriving in Ottawa in just four days. On the evening of Friday June 17, eight members of the KSRSG along with ten family members living in Ottawa gathered at the bottom of the escalators of the arrivals area at the airport in Ottawa. There were cheers and tears when the 12 family members appeared at the top of the escalators and hugs all around once they reached the bottom.
Though they were exhausted from many hours of travel, not to mention years of waiting, there was a tremendous outpouring of gratitude offered to everyone involved. Finally they were safe, and reunited with other family members whom they had not seen for years.
The KSRSG has also been informed that a person they have sponsored as a refugee from Syria will be arriving in Ottawa before the end of June. They also await the arrival of others from Syria and Afghanistan whom they have sponsored.
For more information or to support the efforts of the Kanata Stittsville Refugee Sponsorship Group, please contact Rev. Grant Dillenbeck at 613-836-4962 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.