My name is Ian Smiley. I’m the Chair of the Refugee Sponsorship Committee at Bromley Road Baptist Church (BRBC) in Ottawa, Canada. BRBC has been active in the private sponsorship of refugees going back to the late 1970s when the Vietnamese Boat People were in desperate need of help. Because of the number of sponsorship applications that we submit each year, we don’t have sufficient funds to accommodate every family that we sponsor, so we normally ask the refugees to find a co-sponsor to name in their respective sponsorship. In most cases, the co-sponsor takes the refugee family into their home until they are oriented and ready to function independently in Canada. The co-sponsors are very often of the same ethnic origin as the refugees and in many cases were refugees themselves. And, the co-sponsors are quite frequently the people asking our church to sponsor the refugees on their behalf.
The 19-year-old daughter in this family contacted our church in a desperate plea for help to be sponsored to a safe country (in our case, Canada). Here’s the Email she sent:
My name is Fahima. I am (19 years old) Afghan Hazara & Shia girl. My family is at high risk of persecution and we do not have any male guardian. We are desperately seeking asylum in Canada. We also meet the Afghan priority refugee sponsorship criteria set by the Canadian government. There are some organizations which are ready to help us if any church agrees to fundraise/donate for our sponsorship. Therefore, we have come to know that only ‘the Church of God’ can protect us. Your support may, therefore, transform our lives; we are currently living in death threats & deprived of home & everything which once belonged to us.
The tragic story of our family is explained below:
I had been working as a women's activist since Nov 2019 in the Positive Life Empowerment organization in Afghanistan and was training the girls how to deal with the discriminations committed against them for being girls and the ethnic minorities’ members. I kept working there until when the conditions started getting worse in Afghanistan i.e. until June 2021.
Moreover, I (Fahima) & my younger sister 15 (Masooma) were good players of Muay Thai (which is similar to Taekwando) & won several competitions and were also appreciated for our extraordinary performance by the Muay Thai Federation of Afghanistan many times.
In addition, my father was a critic of Shariah Law interpretations by the Taliban and used to argue with the local community of Dasht-e-Barchi including the Taliban about the rights of women & the Shariah Law implications. He supported us & empowered us in every possible way.
My family was living in Dasht-e-Barchi, Kabul city in Afghanistan before the capture of Afghanistan by Taliban. After the takeover of power by the Taliban, we were really afraid of persecution.
Therefore, we came to Pakistan on the very next day (16th August, 2021) via Spein-Bordak border to Pakistan for the sake of safety of our lives. However, in Pakistan, we only got UNHCR interview waiting slip in September 21.
We didn’t know anyone personally in Pakistan and we don’t understand any language of Pakistan. That’s why, we started struggling in finding any source of income and our savings ended quickly. Now we are struggling for our survivors.
Due to our falling financial condition, my father decided to go back to Afghanistan alone to sell our house in Ghazni province in January 2022 for our survival in Pakistan. We last talked to him when he reached the city of Ghazni, Afghanistan; and he contacted us to tell us about his arrival in the city on 26th January 2022.
Unfortunately, after this date, we did not listen back from him and he reached neither to our Ghazni home nor to any of our relatives’ homes. We approached our relatives in Afghanistan to ask about him but to our misfortune he was not found and is presumed missing now. We are now fearful that he has probably been killed or detained by the Taliban due to his Shariah law critics & my women activist role in Afghanistan.
We approached local police of Pakistan and told them about the incident of our father but they informed us that as he was lost in Afghanistan they cannot help us and they also criticized us for our illegal stay in Pakistan.
We were already struggling in Pakistan due to lack of any visa or appropriate status and now we are without any male guardian. We are helpless two young girls (aged: 19 & 15) living with our old mother (aged 51) & the little brother (aged 11).
We do not have any future in Pakistan or Afghanistan and we have no option of settlement in any country. We are struggling for our survival without a male guardian. It is requested to provide the asylum in Canada to our family, our lives are at stake in Pakistan and our savings have ended.
Both of us sisters can understand basic level English and have the ability to learn new skills/language and I can find any kind of employment or work in Canada. I have also completed MS Office training in Afghanistan and can use it efficiently. Thus, I can do any clerical job. Moreover, my mother can also learn new skills and do any work for our survival. We can live in a city, town or village but just want to escape this life threatening situation.
Our happy lives have changed into sorrows and sighs and our problems are just piling up day by day. Please protect us from the risks of persecution. Once I worked for the development of Afghan girls and now we ourselves have become helpless girls and are in deep problems.
If at any later stage, our father is found then we will be happy to repatriate to Afghanistan or Pakistan but currently we are really in a highly vulnerable condition & need asylum.
We strongly hope that you may reply to us and provide us protection; our condition is deteriorating each day.
Fahima xxxxxx & Masooma xxxxxx
Afghan Hazara refugee girls
Contact: +xx xxx xxxxxxx
I’ve have exchanged numerous Emails with Fahima and have completed all the Government forms to sponsor her family to come to Canada. However, as explained above we don’t have the funds to accommodate their sponsorship and they don’t have anyone in Canada to stand as their co-sponsor. Hence, I’m issuing this GoFundMe appeal.
Want to join me in making a difference? I'm raising money to help Fahima and her family, and any donation will help make an impact. Thanks in advance for your contribution to this cause that means so much to me and my church family.
You can optionally donate directly to Bromley Road Baptist Church at https://bromleyroadbaptist.org/giving
and receive a tax receipt.
Chair, Refugee Sponsorship Committee
Bromley Road Baptist Church (BRBC)
1900 Lauder Dr, Ottawa, ON K2A 1B1