Monday, May 9, 2016


On April 3, we gathered at St. Matthews Church for an evening of amazing music that showcased a tremendous variety of talent for everyone's delight. The concert was a sell-out to a Full House of ardent music fans and supporters, and we are pleased to post some of the photographs here:

The sanctuary welcomes our event!

Kenyan-themed Trio

Iranian Celtic Duo 

Korean Drummers - Whirlwind

Korean Drummers - full view

VOX Choir prepares for their performance

... and a great time was had by all ...



On April 30, we held a fundraising auction at Immanual Baptist Church here in Abbotsford, and had a fantastic turnout!

We would like to acknowledge and say a huge thank you to the following contributors who provided us with so many interesting and popular items for the auction:


Coretech Industries -- Hammer Drill
Homestead Nurseries -- Gift Card & Basket
Clayburn Village General Store -- Assorted Gift Baskets (kids snacks, coffee, wine)
Headsup Embroidery -- 2 Embroidered Bathrobes
Complete Antique China Set
Town Hall Public House, Abbotsford -- Dinner for 8
Vancouver Soaring Club -- Two 1-Hour Glider Rides
Midas, Budget Brake & Muffler -- 3 Oil Changes
Cultus Lake -- Backyard BBQ for 6 Adults
West Coast Amusements -- 6 Full-Day Ride Passes
Salon Picasso -- Professional Make-up Course, and Hair Styling
Choices Market -- Gift Cards, 50 x $10 Gift Coupons
Canadian Tire -- Juicer
Coast Hotels (Abbotsford) -- 1 Night Stay in a Jacuzzi Suite
Western Canoe & Kayaking -- 2 Day Canoe Rental
EJ Watt Jewellery -- Hand Crafted Braided Silver Necklace with Pendant
Vintage Marionette with Original Papers
One Weed Eater
Fraser Tree Farm -- Pre-Christmas 2 Night B&B Stay (incl. Cut-Your-Own Christmas tree)
The Volvo Lady -- Assorted Tool Basket


Saturday, February 13, 2016


Mohammad and His Family ...

Three of Our Newest Canadians

by Tyler OLSEN, Abbotsford News

The words that arrived on his phone would forever alter the lives of Mohammad Amostafa, his wife Heba, and infant daughter Jana.

One day last November, Mohammad received a seemingly random text message. A United Nations official had opened his family’s file and put them on track to go to Canada – destination, Abbotsford.

Since fleeing the escalating Syrian civil war, Mohammad (28) had been living in limbo for years. Like millions of his countrymen and women, his previously normal life had been shattered by an evolving conflict that saw a small country torn to shreds by warring factions.

Engaged, but not yet married to Heba, Mohammad had been just two courses shy of his economics degree when he left his country behind in 2012.  His city under bombardment and communication systems out, Mohammad passed through 10 checkpoints – each one with the possibility that the military would drag him out of his car on a whim, or because he shared a name with someone else.

“By the time we reached the airport, it was like a miracle,” he said through an interpreter.

He lived for more than a year with his brother in the United Arab Emirates but, unable to obtain permanent residency, he moved to Jordan along with his parents and hundreds of thousands of other displaced Syrians.

He would later be joined there by Heba. In different times, they would have gotten married in a three-day ceremony and party in the large backyard of Mohammad’s family home. Instead, their two-hour wedding was held in a hotel in Jordan in the spring of 2014. While Mohammad’s family was prominent, only Heba’s sister was able to attend.

Interviewed and registered as refugees in Jordan, Mohammad and Heba had no homeland or long-term prospects. Unable to complete their degrees or find decent work, they lived in a small apartment for more than a year as the war in Syria dragged on. Into this stasis, their daughter Jana was born last April.

As she was taking her first breaths, hundreds of thousands of other refugees were on the move, desperate to escape their homeland, and the images that documented their flight last year would stir the world to act.

In Canada, pressure was growing on the government while, at the same time, local groups were organizing to see how they could help.

October’s federal election saw the Liberals sweep into power, bringing with them a promise to bring tens of thousands of refugees to Canada. Smaller groups were also mobilizing, including the Abbotsford Interfaith Movement, a group of men and women from a range of faiths teaming up to pay for 60 per cent of the costs of a refugee family.

A month later, Mohammad received the text message that notified him that he had been placed on track to move to Canada with his young family. After subsequent interviews, he would later meet a Canadian whom he described as very nice and who gave him the news that his application had been approved.

“It was a relief. I was happy that I was going to change my situation, because I was going to change my life.”

His parents were supportive, even if it meant him flying around the globe.

“It’s a mixed feeling. They were sad I was going to leave, but happy for my new future.”

Getting to Canada wasn’t easy. After an aborted phone call on Jan. 25 promised a flight three days later, a promised follow-up with more details never materialized. On Jan. 27, still with no information, Mohammad drove hours to Amman, the Jordanian capital, to seek some clarity.

There, he got an answer. His flight would depart in a little more than 12 hours.

Mohammad raced back to his apartment, where he had just six hours to pack up some possessions, say goodbye, and get ready to move to a new country.

“It’s impossible,” Heba said, when Mohammad explained their impending departure.

But the next day, the family boarded a plane to Canada. More than 24 hours later, after stops in Montreal and Toronto, they arrived at Vancouver International Airport to the surprise that they were privately sponsored, with a large group of people working to ease their transition.

At the airport, nine people stood eagerly waiting for the family’s arrival, and bearing a sign with their names spelled out in both Arabic and English. The first nights after their arrival were spent with the family of Lynn Gamache, a member of the interfaith group. By the time Mohammad spoke to The News a week later, the group had already helped his family move into a furnished apartment in central Abbotsford.

Since arriving in Canada, everything has gone according to plan, he said.

“When I decided to migrate to Canada, it was my decision to change my life. It’s right. It’s different for me and my family. There are some differences in the house, the lifestyle, but my plan was to change my life.”

Mohammad has lived away from his Syrian hometown many times in his life, and although the distance between Daraa and Abbotsford may be farther than he’s ever experienced, he finally has a chance to build a new home. Just a week into that new life, as he scans a news story about dozens of other refugees bound for Abbotsford, he is already comfortable enough in his new country to consider offering his own unique help to the Syrians following in his footsteps.

“I’m happy because I have a new future in front of me.”

Mohammad Amostafa and baby Jana - home, at last.

Friday, January 29, 2016




We are so excited to announce that our sponsored family has arrived!! They flew from Jordan to Toronto's Pearson International airport on Thursday, January 28 ... and will arrive at YVR today at 4:00 pm!! Members of the IRP Committee have gathered at the airport to welcome them to their new home. 

Our family is comprised of a young couple with an adorable 10-month old baby girl – Mohammad and his wife, Heba, along with their baby, Jana! Thanks to the generosity of a benefactor in the community, we have already arranged permanent accommodation for them, and will continue collecting donated household goods to help them set up their home. 

If you have any lightly-used or new household goods or furniture that you can donate to help them set up housekeeping, please contact the Reverend Connie Thompson at (604) 853-0801, or send an e-mail to

Of course, we are thrilled to receive our family of New Canadians into our community, but their arrival has also begun a flurry of activity to make sure they have everything they need. They are no doubt overwhelmed by their new – and very different – surroundings, but we are confident that with your support, we can help them feel welcomed and comfortable.

Thanks to Jennifer Mpungo and Edward Shigali of the Mennonite Central Committee, who have facilitated our sponsoring process!! We are just one of many groups they have been helping, and their contribution has been invaluable!!

Members of the IRP Committee gather at YVR 
to welcome our New Canadian family!

 **Keep watching this site for information on our family – and THANK YOU for helping us change their lives, as they start over in their new home country of Canada!


A big THANK YOU to the 
Baba Banda Singh Bahadur gurdwara!

On Saturday, January 23 the members of the Baba Banda Singh Bahadur gurdwara, at 31631 South Fraser Way, showed their generous spirit and their compassionate heart by collecting a total of $620 (plus $7 USD) for our Interfaith Refugee Project.

In addition to their wonderful financial support, many members have stepped forward with other offers of support – some offered transportation services, some offered child-minding and other child-related assistance, and many more offered to help in whatever other ways might be needed.  

We would like to say a proud THANK YOU to the members of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur gurdwara for their kindness and support. The slogan of “It Takes A Village” has never been more true – and our community of Abbotsford is certainly stepping up to exemplify that!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


We are excited to advise that 
our fundraising successes have
brought our January 20 total to

$27, 115!!

That means we are 

less than $7,000 

from our goal of $34,000 ...

Please help us reach our goal
by encouraging your family and friends
to donate to the cause.

Below, our thermometer graphic 
illustrates just how close we are:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


We are pleased to invite you to join us at the 
Town Hall Public House 
for an evening of fun and games, 
to raise funds in support of our 
Refugee Sponsorship project. 

(... see poster below, for info ...)

Please come out and support us 
... mark your calendar, and bring some friends.
It'll be FUN!!

            Remember - we need your help to make this happen,                 so please spread the word!! 

THANKS for your Support!!


Monday, January 4, 2016


Some Updated Numbers

(as of Jan. 1, 2016)

(11,607 refugees have been approved so far)

5,307 refugee applications have been finalized 
(but they have not yet travelled to Canada)
6,300 refugees have already arrived in Canada
22 flights of refugees have arrived in Canada
85 communities are preparing to welcome refugees.

Interfaith Refugee Project
Fundraising Initiative

Government sources have determined that it takes approximately $34,000 to cover the first year of living expenses for a sponsored family of FOUR. Our committee has been working hard to raise the funds needed to provide for our sponsored family, but we still have a ways to go.
Can you help support the Abbotsford initiative to sponsor a Refugee family? Any amount will help, but tax receipts will be issued for donations of $20 or more. 

Please contact the project chair:
  Reverend Connie Thompson
  Telephone: (604) 853-0801 or 

Your assistance is both needed and appreciated. Here is an illustrative depiction of where we're at, having raised over $23,000 already: