Forced to flee from her home in Eritrea at only 17-years-old, Amleset is unable to return without risk of being forced into military service which would put her at risk of sexual enslavement, torture, and other abuses.
Amleset, whose real name was withheld for safety reasons, is one of more than 68 million people displaced from their homes as of Jun. 19, 2018.
Of those displaced, 24.5 million are refugees, and more than half of these refugees are children.
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), believes this is the highest level of refugees the world has ever experienced.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is calling on both groups and individuals to apply for Canada’s Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR) program.
Through BVOR, sponsors are matched with refugees who are deemed the most vulnerable by the UNHCR to support them for a minimum of one year.
The Canadian Government will cover a sponsor’s cost for up to six months.
For the remaining six months of support, the Refugee Hub, the Shapiro Foundation, G. Barrie Landry, and the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto are launching the $2.5 million 2019 BVOR fund.
“Around the world, walls are being built, but in Canada there is an opportunity to make a difference by choosing welcome through the BVOR program! We are deeply grateful to the Refugee Hub, the Shapiro Foundation, G. Barrie Landry, and the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto Fund for their compassion and generosity toward refugees,” Moses Moini, MCC Ontario’s Refugee and Resettlement Coordinator, said.
Beyond that, sponsor groups are still responsible for startup costs such as clothing and furniture.
There are many options for where to get these, including in-kind donations from charities or foundations willing to support the program or through their own funding.
Applications for the 2019 BVOR fund are open until Aug. 31 or until the funds run out.
All refugees who take part in the BVOR program have already been screened by both the UNHCR and the Government of Canada.
They undergo thorough security, legal, and health checks so that they can feel welcome and supported immediately upon arrival, which can be expected to occur within 1 to 4 months of matching with a family in Canada.
More information about the BVOR program and how to apply visit canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/refugees/help-outside-canada/private-sponsorship-program/blended-visa-office-program.

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