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To date, RUC and friends have raised $44,539.78.  Together with New Vision United Church of Canada in Hamilton, ON, we have met and surpassed our goal!  The Syrian Refugee family of 6, are now settled in Hamilton ON.

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RUC members Denise Giacomozzi and Jan May August 2023 visiting the family where they are safely settled in Hamilton, ON, Canada.

Syrian Refugee Project (SRP) Update


NVUC Newcomer Report for 2022


We are thankful to God that our newcomer family, jointly sponsored by NVUC in Hamilton and Rockville United Church in Maryland, arrived in Toronto from Turkey on May 10, 2022, after a wait of more than 5 years. This has been a journey and exercise of faith. During that period, the file had to be updated for various reasons, two more children were born, and very little to no progress was made during the pandemic. However, Marwan Al Zahra, his wife Aziza Daif, and children Mohammed (8 years), Fewaz (6 years), and Fatima (4 years) finally arrived at their new home in Hamilton on May 10, 2022. 

From the funds raised by Rockville and NVUC, we provided start-up money for food, kitchen equipment, bedding, winter clothing and other items, and are administering a stipend of $1971/month to Marwan, in accord with government minimum recommendations ( NVUC folks and Kirkendall community members rallied by Jen Hompoth cleaned and outfitted the home in advance of the family’s arrival. Many household items were procured through NVUC folks and the Kirkendall group. Jean Baine’s former neighbour’s son donated a lot of gently-used furniture. Carlotta from Rockville mailed up a box of toys and stuffies for the children. 

Baby Lara was born in mid-July following a timely referral by Joda Kuk. The older three children started attending Earl Kitchener School in September. Co-sponsors Seham Al Zahra and Iyad El Assaf have provided moral support, banking help, transportation for shopping and appointments since the family’s arrival. Marwan walks downtown to ESL classes at St. Charles Continuing and Adult Education and is making plans to get his G1 driver’s license. The family was promptly confronted with some formidable Canadian tradition when Mohammed’s teacher gave the family a Christmas tree. 

Since the family’s arrival, putting government services in place has proven difficult. The Permanent Resident cards for three family members are still pending and Federal and provincial Child Benefits have not yet started for any of the children, despite applications that Helen Bradley submitted in July. We understand these benefits are now slated to start “within 14 weeks”.  As a result of the delays, NVUC has provided periodic top-ups from our refugee funds to the family. The UCC requires regular reports on the sponsorship. I submitted these at the one-month and four-month marks. 

Big thank you’s are due to Helen, Deb and Dan, Sharon, Jen and Joda, Amr, Ari, Jenny, Erin & Dixon, Jean, Sheila, David, George & Julie, Rev. Ian and Cater, Crystal, and others at NVUC, and Denise (Cater’s friend), Scott, Carlotta, Lori, Donna, and the members of Rockville United who faithfully prayed and met and contributed to the launching of this newcomer family. Note that in addition to covering the sponsorship year in Canada, sponsorship funds were used to support Marwan and his family for over three years in Turkey. Without the overseas support, they would not be here. Special thanks to lawyer Tim Wichert for his calm advice during the darkest days of waiting (at no charge), and to Kym Ruddick from MP Filomena Tassi’s office for her engagement with us. The Lord’s blessings on you all.

It would be lovely to have a formal get-together with Marwan and Aziza, Seham and Iyad, their children, and folks from NVUC and Rockville United before the sponsorship ends on May 9, 2023, as there was no suitable time to host a welcome party in 2022. 

Respectfully submitted,


Karen Mathewson

January 15, 2023

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