Here’s the basic 411:
Who? Our friend, Zakeria**, arrived in Thailand seeking asylum at the age of 16. For the last four years, he has been living in the shadows, fighting to be resettled in a country where he will be free. Recently, Zakeria was arrested and thrown in prison when local authorities raided his apartment building, looking for refugees.
What? A church in Canada has seen the amazing potential in Zaki and has agreed to sponsor him. While the church will facilitate all of the needed documentation and correspondence with the Canadian government, they need help raising the sponsorship fees.
Canada has a fantastic refugee resettlement system, which allows private citizens and organizations (under the SAH) to come alongside refugee individuals/families and sponsor their resettlement. This means that once Zaki arrives in Canada, there will be a group of volunteers waiting to come alongside him to help him adjust to life in Canada- find a place to live, get a job, learn to shop/get around, etc. I personally love this model for resettling, integrating, and supporting refugees- inviting others in should be the business of the people/the church/the community.
While $16,000 sounds like a LOT of money- this money is meant to be what Zaki survives off his first year in Canada. So his rent, food, transport, etc is covered by this money. Let me repeat- 100% of this money (besides the % gofundme deducts for using their platform) goes to Zakeria’s first year expenses, which is held by the SAH (his sponsors) once his application is submitted!
If all the funds are raised by December 20th, we can submit Zakeria’s paperwork to be processed at the beginning of the new year, giving him the fastest opportunity possible to be resettled in Canada.
If you are a Canadian resident and wish to receive a tax receipt for your donation, please PM so I can inform you the best place for you to give your donation.
If you are living in Bangkok and want your donation to stretch further (ie: no gofundme fees detracted, please PM and we can arrange a way to receive the donation.
If you are in the USA and giving a large donation and interested in (the slightly cumbersome way of) receiving a receipt for tax purposes, please PM me. Alternatively, we will be in the States in December and January and can receive donations then as well.
Oh, I’ve stayed up nights thinking about this question. I could write a book, or book after book about why. About why refugees, about why the vulnerable, the orphan, the “other’. I could write a book about why this particular kid. And then I could write 10 more about how there are hundreds more I personally know and who deserve this chance too. So I guess I’ll start with saying, in the face of all of this- all of the realities of the suffering in the world right now, we cannot let the magnitude of it keep us inactive. Don’t you sometimes feel like you need to make yourself numb to it all- just build a cocoon and keep it all out? I know I do. And I don’t know about you, but when I allow myself to care I very quickly snowball- what about the Rohingya in Bangladesh? What about my friends in the detention center? What about my Thai neighbors who are struggling to get by? I get so overwhelmed sometimes that I can’t do anything, can’t love anyone. My husband so graciously reminds me to just be where I am, love who I’m surrounded by. And so, in a way, that’s why Zakeria. In one unlikely coincidence after another, this young man became a part of our family. Yeah- we think he deserves a chance (his first, really) at living life. Yeah- we think he is an extraordinary human being. Yeah- we find his perseverance, intelligence, vulnerability, and positivity, especially considering the life he has lived- to be remarkable. So why Zakeria? All of these reasons, and so many more. But I can’t promise that next year I won’t be here again, begging for another amazing teen to have a chance at life. =)
Please share and spread the word!
**Name changed to provide anonymity for our friend
For more information on the reality of life as an asylum seekers/refugee in Thailand read here:
For more information regarding Canada’s sponsorship programs read here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/publications/ref-sponsor/index.asp
Edited to add (for gofundme compliancy reasons):
1. We are Mark and Alissa Cooprider and split our time between the U.S.A and Thailand
2. Zakeria is a former client of mine, and now a personal friend whom we regularly phone and visit.
3. The funds raised will be submitted to his sponsorship agreement holders in Canada at the time his application is submitted to the Canadian government. The money will pay for all financial needs for his first year of life in Canada (These can include housing, food, medical expenses, personal products and more. see here ). It is up to the team of sponsors to work out a budget considering all expenses.
The level of support sponsors are expected to provide is equal to that of the prevailing rates for provincial/municipal or social assistance in the community the refugee is expected to settle in.
4. Once the funds are raised, we will withdraw the money and send it to the SAH (sponsorship agreement holder) for the purpose of Zakeria's sponsorship fees. We will update on that process once it takes place, and also post confirmation of receipt from the SAH.
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