Life as a Refugee

  • Refugee Stories

    The names, places and identifying details of these stories have been changed to protect the individuals. 

  • Refugees 4 Refugees Collaboration

    farrukh susan rhpr2019I had the privilege of meeting Farrukh Mushtaq (far right in this photo) and his brother of Refugees 4 Refugees at the Refugee Highway Partnership Roundtable in Toronto in October, 2019. He was part of a group that had been invited to lead the worship at one of the plenery sessions - authentic Pakistani music complete with harmonium and a drummer like I have never heard before!

    Farrukh was also one of the featured speakers, sharing his story of life in Pakistan, the blasphemy accusations, his family's flight to Vietnam then Sri Lanka, before coming to Canada. He and his family have lived the refugee story. He knows what it is like to leave everything  behind or be killed, and he knows what it is to be forcibly displaced, surviving as you can in a country that has no place for you.

  • Refugees Offer Sympathy to Victims of Brussels Attacks

    Unfortunately many people draw a direct connection between accepting Syrian refugees and welcoming terrorists - some going so far as to state that receiving refugees is the cause of terror attacks in the receiving countries.

    This belief defies logic because refugees are fleeing the same terror that has already been done in their country. If an arsonist burns down an apartment building and it's residents begin to look for somewhere safe to live, who would deny them help because "everybody from that building is an arsonist and all they want to do is burn all our apartment buildings down too"?

  • Samir Family

    silhouette 3b Samir,* from a country known for its high incidence of Christian persecution, has sought asylum in Asia. Very aware of the danger, he and his friend started carefully approaching members of their nationality and the Arab community to share the gospel. Late last year, someone exposed them and they have both been threatened with death by a radical group for being apostates and trying to convert people away from Islam. They’ve been reported to the authorities who work with their Embassy. If they are caught, as he says, the best case scenario is that they be deported back "home" where they will be sure to receive capital punishment. But Samir is familiar with Canada!

  • Save the Children

    Save the Children has produced these 2 excellent videos showing, through a number of one second vignettes, what war does to children.

  • Syrian Refugees Respond to Fort McMurray Evacuation

    Syrian refugee response to Fort McMurray firesSyrian refugees know what it is like to lose everything and can identify with the evacuated citizens of Fort McMurray, Alberta. That is why many Syrian refugees in Alberta are helping in whatever way possible. This Montreal Gazette article tells the story of what one such group of resettled refugees is doing in Calgary.

  • UN says one-third of refugees sailing to Europe are children

    refugees one third childrenThe UN now reports that children now make up over a third of the people making the perilous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece. You can read more about this at:


  • What Can I Do?

    computer keyboardI have spent the evening again reading emails and messaging with people overseas. As time goes on, these people are becoming friends. We laugh together, we pray for one another, (I think that may be why my wrist is better again), we talk about our days and our children … and I often cry. May I introduce you to a few?

    Let me introduce Bethany*.  Her husband Henry had been a teacher at a Missionary School before being charged with blasphemy. Bethany made the mistake of identifying extremists to police and speaking against them in the media. Their village was set ablaze, with explosives being thrown into houses.

  • What if the fighting in Aleppo was happening in Toronto?

    Understanding how other people are just like us makes it easier to feel compassion for them and love outside of our comfort zones.

  • When You Want to Experience a Love Story

    av familiesAnn Voskamp has a gift of putting to words the expressions of our hearts. This link will take you to her website and this particular entry in which she describes the way living our faith, loving people simply because they need loving, "being the arms of the Savior," and doing what we can to "move heaven and earth to let the broken in," will change us, our communities, our hearts.

    "Now, now, is the time for the Church to be the Church."

    We have a Strong God. We have a high calling. By God's grace, we can be what our world needs today, if we will step up, step out, and be the people of grace and hope God is calling us to be.

  • World Refugee Day - Not Just Another Day

    Alex, a native of Burundi, is currently living in Uganda, a refugee. Here you'll catch a glimpse of a  young man  articulate and kind hearted, even after the violence he has suffered. 

    Burundi cowsWorld Refugee Day: June 20th

    A friend of mine asked me what this DAY signifies to me...

    Today is not just another day when I get to hear about stories of refugees. Today is not another day when I get to read reports or articles of the UNHCR about refugees or asylum seekers.

    Today is another day when I am reminded of the sad truth that I personally experienced as a teenager and now growing into it. About 70.8 million people worldwide have been forced to flee their home countries due to war, conflict and persecution and about 30 million of them are under the age of 18 (UN Refugee Agency). It is real, the world is terribly suffering.

    Today, am reminded of the day I had to take a bus alone for 20 hours straight leaving my family and everything I knew, to save my life. I crossed two borders in freezing cold weather, arrived in a foreign country and applied for asylum (a term that I had heard only in Movies back then).

  • Youth Pastor Attacked for Sharing His Faith

    flag pakistan 2Hazeem’s* life passion was Christian ministry, leading two youth Bible studies a week, training up youth to share the Gospel with unbelievers and organizing youth seminars. His wife, Anaya had a ministry to women in the church. While sharing the gospel one day, Hazeem was physically attacked and threatened with death by local Muslims. The young family fled their Pakistani home in the middle of the night, eventually arriving in Malaysia where they live as refugees with their daughter. A US church has raised all the funds for their support. All they need is a church willing to provide a settlement team and manage the funds.

    Profile: A Pakistani refugee family living in Malaysia

    Risks: Death if they return to home country of Pakistan; no opportunity to work, and high risk of arrest in country of asylum 

    Advantages: All funds for sponsorship already raised, experience working in youth and women’s ministries.

    Seeking: A church willing to provide the settlement team and hold funds in trust

  • Za'atari Refugee Camp - Part 1

    Susan deskAmong the many emails I received in January 2019, one was from a young father named Mahdi,* a Syrian refugee in Jordan with his wife and their 2 young children. His mother fled with them when they left Syria. I do not know what happened to his father. He has not said, and I have not asked.

    Over the course of the year we have become friends of a sort. He has internet access and time, so he has learned alot about Canada. Unlike others, he knows that it is not winter all year round in Canada!

    "I know that Canada has a summer, but with nice temperatures, Canada's winter is warm like the hearts of Canadians and the gentle autumn like the smiles of Canadians and spring gives the fragrance from the heart of Canadians and the summer is as beautiful as the morals of Canadians, a tribute to the land that received the stranger and refugees gently and generously from all over the earth."

    If he ever makes it here and spends a winter in any part of Canada other than Vancourver Island I expect he may describe it differently! 

  • Za'atari Refugee Camp - Part 2

    Mahdizaatari 2019* lives in Za'atari Refugee Camp in Jordan and has become a friend as we have exchanged emails over the past year. He is caring for his mother, wife and 2 young children. I asked how the pandemic is affecting life for refugees in Jordan and this was his response:

    It is difficult to talk about what happened during the last period with words in a few lines, but I will try to speak briefly and I hope to have written abley to explain what has happened.

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