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Amleset* fled Eritrea at the age of 17. If Amleset returns to Eritrea, she will be forced into military service where women can face sexual enslavement, torture and other sexual abuses.

The world is currently witnessing the highest level of refugees on record. Over 68.5 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes and 25.4 million are refugees. Over half of them are children under the age of 18.

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is calling on individuals, communities, neighbours, and faith groups to change lives through Canada’s Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR) program. The BVOR program matches the most vulnerable refugees identified for resettlement by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) with private sponsors in Canada. The Government of Canada gives up to six months of income support. 

After the success of the 2018 BVOR Fund, the Refugee Hub, the Shapiro Foundation, G. Barrie Landry, and the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto are relaunching a 2.5 million 2019 BVOR Fund. The fund will provide qualifying sponsoring groups with an additional six months of support for the resettlement of up to 3,000 refugees approved by the Government of Canada for resettlement through the BVOR program this year. This fund is a time-bound funding source that will cover the sponsor’s portion of the BVOR sponsorship costs. Groups will be responsible for securing funding or in-kind donations to cover start-up costs such as clothing and furniture.

Sponsors can apply for the funds between May 2nd and August 31st or until the fund is exhausted prior to the deadline. Refugees sponsored with the support of this fund will arrive in Canada before December 31, 2019.

All refugees resettled to Canada undergo rigorous security, legal, and health checks. Upon arrival, the refugees will be welcomed and supported through their settlement by their sponsorship group for a minimum of one year.

MCC is launching the #ChooseWelcome campaign (choosewelcome.ca) to tell the stories of refugees in need, sponsors who have been involved, and newcomers who continue to make a positive impact in our communities.

  • Meet Amleset** who fled Eritrea at the age of 17. If Amleset returns to Eritrea, she will be forced into military service where women can face sexual enslavement, torture, and other sexual abuses.
  • Meet Ann Voskamp, a world-renowned author, speaker, and sponsor who shares why she chooses welcome: “Why build higher gates when we could set out more plates? Why not shut out fear instead of shutting out children fleeing war? When we love one another, we discover there is no other. There is only us.”
  • Meet Husam** and Abdul** who have successfully completed grades 2 and 4 respectively in Canada. They have made friends and they play outside freely without fearing bombs and bullets.
  • Meet Amena** who has learned English and is now offering weekly Syrian cooking classes in her community. Neighbours who had never met before are connecting over delicious Syrian delicacies.

Moses Moini, MCC Ontario’s Refugee and Resettlement Program Coordinator who came to Canada as a sponsored refugee in 1992, is both inspired and humbled by the recently announced fund.  “Around the world, walls are being built, but in Canada there is an opportunity to make a difference by choosing welcome through the BVOR program! We are deeply grateful to the Refugee Hub, the Shapiro Foundation, G. Barrie Landry, and the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto Fund for their compassion and generosity towards refugees.” Together, we can make a difference.

For info on how you can change lives through the BVOR program go to choosewelcome.ca

*UNHCR https://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html

**For security reasons names, photos, and descriptions are representations only.