We wanted to provide an update on Tam’s family in Lebanon. We are relieved to report that Tam’s mom and sisters are safe from the recent devastating earthquake in Syria. However, the series of big earthquakes on top of everything else have been extremely worrying for them and his other relatives back in Syria. Tam’s three sisters have been doing their best to assist with the aftershocks and volunteer work alongside the humanitarian teams they know back in Syria to provide mental health and trauma support to the survivors during these difficult times. For example, his three sisters help organize and coordinate mental health and trauma support over the phone and help distribute food baskets (which money was fundraised online…link below) to the survivors in the areas that did not receive aid from larger rescue groups due to sanctions in Syria.
To donate to support Syrians affected by the earthquakes, visit:
Unfortunately, there is no new information regarding the sponsorship process. Miriam, Dina, Rita, and Sarah are remaining hopeful and positive while patiently waiting for the approval of their sponsorship. It’s important to note that the situation in Lebanon continues to worsen. It’s currently very cold there, they have limited electricity daily and unaffordable food prices, which adds to the difficulties they are facing.
Tam is doing everything he can to try and expedite the process and ensure their safety. However, with the current situation in Lebanon, that area is no longer safe, and things are worsening rapidly. It can be challenging and we feel helpless at times, but we remain committed to doing everything we can to support Tam’s family and get them to safety as soon as possible.
Thank you for your continued support and thoughts during this challenging time. We appreciate it more than words can express.
The urgency of Tam’s need to sponsor his sister to come to safety — and to raise all the funds before the end of November! — has already touched the hearts of many people. One of these so moved is artist Theo Dombrowski. During the month of November he will divert to Sarah’s sponsorship all the profits from any paintings sold through his website: https://theodombrowski.net/
His paintings range across many subjects and genres, as the sample below suggests. If you’re interested in art, take a look. You may find something that delights you — and at the same time contributes to adding this young Syrian refugee to the sponsorship of the rest of her family.
Elsewhere on this website, you can read more about Tam’s sister, Sarah, who you are helping to sponsor to come to Canada as a Syrian refugee, and about Tam’s mum.
We thought you’d like to know more about Tam’s two other sisters, as they also sound like incredible people, and your help for this campaign is not just helping Sarah, but helping the whole family: to be together, to be safe.
Let’s let Tam describe his beloved sisters in his own words:
Tam’s sister, Rita, is the next oldest. In Tam’s words:
Rita always supports the people around her. She is my partner in the suffering of war and fleeing from the bombs. During the months we lived without electricity or water, she was my partner in finding water for our family. Rita was able to finish her studies in mathematical statistics during the war. She was accepted to study for a master’s degree in statistical research and analysis, but she could not proceed due to the war. She has established training programs to train refugee children in mental arithmetic and its uses in their daily lives. Her dream is for our family to be together once again without any worries and fears of losing each other.
The life of an immigrant is never easy, but we’re confident that Tam’s family has the motivation, skills and commitment to settle into life in Canada and make wonderful contributions to society. Thank you SO much for your part in allowing them to be together.
Now in Lebanon. Tam’s mother and sisters have no formal status, and so may be deported at any time. They only have refugee status right now, and no work permits or guarantee to stay. They also have no access to healthcare; hence they are at great risk if any serious health problem arises.
The whole family is at risk because they are Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Struggling with its own social and economic challenges, Lebanon is estimated to be hosting some 1.5 million refugees from Syria. As often happens when too may desperate people are struggling for limited resources, this has fostered resentment, and the current Lebanese government appears to be enacting policies to make life difficult for Syrians and encourage them to leave.
These recent articles give a sense of current struggles for Syrians in Lebanon:
Tam’s mum has a health issue that needs weekly monitoring, but this is not possible right now. She doesn’t have the right medication or any medical follow-up. Tam is very concerned about her worsening condition while they are stuck in Lebanon. She continues to live daily with no doctor or any medical care access.
Tam’s eldest sister has a condition called Keratoconus and is currently facing the risk of blindness if she does not get proper medical attention and assessments. She also has no medical support.
Tam’s family all woman, without local support from friends or family, and have experienced harassment. Lacking income, they struggle to live only on what Tam is able to send them each month from Victoria. Food supplies are inadequate.
Housing and living conditions are very poor, with no furniture, no oven and no heat in winter. Internet access is limited, meaning contact with Tam is limited. Electricity is intermittent.
"As you can see, each day, I wonder how they make it through the basic daily struggles and pray that they can hold onto the hope that they will soon be together and safe here with me. This is why I'm scared every day and rushing to help them to save their life and bring them safety. I'm their only hope."
“In the summer of 2020, one day my mom and sisters came home to vulgar death threats written on our house door. Ever since this event, my sisters were terrified to leave the safety of our home. They lived through constant fear of losing their lives every single day. Unfortunately, my family members were not able to escape Syria right away because of the borders being closed due to Covid at the time. However, as soon as the borders opened, they managed to escape Syria.
For several reasons, life in Syria has become extremely dangerous for my family. For the safety of my endangered family, I am unable to disclose some of the other threats that my sisters and I have faced because often you face additional hardships, including the risks of violence, discrimination, imprisonment, death, and torture, either in Syria, or in the countries to which they have fled.
We are Ismailis. In Syria, Ismaili are a vulnerable religious minority and considered as perpetual foreigners. Due to the Ismaili playing a big role in the Syrian uprising against Assad since the early stages of the war, they constantly face persecution and experience repeated violence and abuse by the government and various extremist groups who attempt to prevent us from practicing our beliefs. Some of our relatives have escaped, others have died.
My family is known for being liberals and unsupportive of the Al- Assad regime (who won the most recent election in May 2021), which puts my family in significant risks, especially because my sisters have worked with international humanitarian organizations which strive to support minorities, children and women. Recently many of my sisters’ peers have been jailed, tortured, raped and killed simply because of their humanitarian work during this immoral and barbaric war.”
“Mariam, is not just my mom; she is my superhero. Words cannot describe it. No matter how hard I try to reward her for her great sacrifices for me and my sisters, I will never be able to thank her enough and compensate her for everything she did for us.
She is a source of pride and honour for being the person I am today. Through her, I learned that nothing is impossible. My mother suffered a lot in her life, she worked two jobs in order to feed us after my father passed away. Yet, for more than 12 years, she has harnessed her health and strength to support us, support our dreams, and protect us from the brutal war.
Despite everything, she has always shown us that she is strong and resilient. There were times, however, when I saw the unbearable fear in her eyes.
Recently she became very interested in meditation and human energy. To heal herself because she has no access to any medical care while in Lebanon, and she needs regular checkups from a doctor for heart and thyroid issues she has.
My mother’s only wish is for her children to be together once again. Because we went through all these hardships in life together, she hopes it will finally end soon. Her dream for us is to live in safety and peace.”