UPDATE: October 2020

October 2020

Dear friends, supporters of Jean's family,

We hope that things are going well and that you are safe during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a crazy and strange world to live in. As you can imagine, the pandemic has been an extra burden on everyone and asylum seekers - like our friend Jean - are among those who have suffered the most.

What is currently going on with Jean and his family?  Jean's life in Kitchener Waterloo is going relatively well. After moving to the region of Waterloo, he got occasional part-time jobs in research. His contract ended last August. He currently has other part-time work with organizations working with refugees and newly arrived immigrants. While keeping Arnprior as his home community, he has made new friends and is getting more and more settled in Waterloo Region. During his visit to Arnprior for 2020 year’s Thanksgiving weekend, Jean met some members of Arnprior Community and took opportunity to thank the community members in these terms:  “….. I would like to express my gratitude to Arnpriorcares and other members of this community for supporting me and my family as we are going through this painful transition. Thank you for the support of $2,100 that my family received last year. The financial support helped us to cover the cost of living for three months”. Jean is also grateful to his friends in Waterloo Region who have always been present in his life, making sure he has what he needs. He is always pleased to see the "Java de Jean" coffee sale project has been kept on and continued to be used as the fundraising strategy to support the family. Jean is thankful of many friends and supporters who have chosen to buy the coffee while waiting for the family to be reunited. In his news sharing during his recent visit to Arnprior, Jean added :“ The painful aspect of our journey is the long separation from his family. The emotional burden of this separation is becoming more and more difficult to bear. Our children have many questions that we can't answer. My wife has done her best to take care of the children”. The fact that they have been in "waiting mode" for so long has put our family in a situation of confusion and uncertainty. Jean revealed that the Family members have shown signs of emotional problems.

In addition to the refugee situation, COVID -19 and the multiple challenges associated with it were additional stressors imposed on the family due to the separation. Family members still have faith in Almighty God and believe that one day the family will be reunited. When will this happen? This is a question that Jean has been asked by his many Canadian friends. He lamentably responds to this question saying “ No one knows how long it will take for Canadian immigration authorities to process and decide on their application, which was submitted 26 months ago”. Jean's nightmare is that COVID-19 has complicated things and will certainly prolong the wait for family reunification. Jean testifies that trust in God and the support of Canadian friends and supporters have helped the family cope with the situation. He is grateful to have been surrounded and supported by many friends who continue to support the family through this painful transition.

What are the needs of Jean and his family?  First of all, the family needs to be reunited. Jean has studied and evaluated the different possibilities for reuniting his family and has always realized that waiting was the best solution! He wonders if there is a humanitarian ground or window that his supporters could use to reunite the family as quickly as possible. It seems that the Canadian system does not have provisions to prevent such a lengthy separation of families and its negative consequences.  Jean certainly has other needs and wishes to be able to resume his peacebuilding and anti-corruption initiatives. In March 2020, when he found that the lock on his bike was damaged and his bike was stolen, he learned that Canada also needs to promote and support anti-corruption education. Jean noted that his other current needs are overshadowed by the need to have his family with him.  In the near future, supporters and family friends from Waterloo Region and Arnprior will meet online to discuss what needs to be done for Jean at this critical time, reassess the family's needs and work together to meet them.