An update

First, a huge thank you to everyone who has given their time, money, support and well wishes to this family. It is apparent that they are aware of what everyone has done and they have received a warm welcome from the Highlands.
Some highlights from the last month and a half:
All of the school-aged kids are attending school. Ghadir, 5, is at Stuart Baker Elementary School; Mohammed, 10, Hozayfa, 11, and Faysal, 13, are all attending JD Hodgson; and Rihab, 16, and Bayan, 17, are at the high school. Hasan is currently at the Adult Education and Training Centre.
They have been supported by ESL tutors provided by the school board and also by volunteers from our committee.
At home, parents Yousef and Ghiyab are receiving English lessons from ESL volunteers.
One group of volunteers is currently working on a Learning through Play program and is busy organizing excursions that are engaging and educational.
Several weeks ago Faysal broke his leg while playing soccer. He has had regular doctor’s visits and is on the mend.
The Wisos love their new home. All of the work in cleaning up and upgrading the home has made it a safe, happy place for them to live. Veggies planted in the garden in the summer were harvested, the large rooms accommodate all of the children and the upgraded kitchen is seeing plenty of use.
Thanks to all of the generous donors, the home has been furnished and stocked with all of the items the Wisos need.
We no longer need donations for the home. Please take your items to the SIRCH Thrift or 4Cs. 
Some other things we’ve learned….
Here are a few snippets of what Yousef told a translator recently of their trip to Canada:

On Haliburton: he said the flight from Lebanon to Toronto was long and they were initially afraid of coming here. But when they arrived there were all these people waiting for them who have been giving the family so much love. He said the family loves the volunteers who take care of them.
In Canada people treat each other very respectfully, Yousef said, and are more integrated with each other than in Syria.
He was asked what surprised him and the answer was the good treatment they received here.
We are still looking for volunteers – especially those willing to provide transportation. You need a police check. If you are interested, please contact us at:

Refugee committee to welcome Wiso family


The Haliburton Refugee Sponsorship Committee (HRSC) will be welcoming the Wiso family to Haliburton Village on Monday, Sept. 19.

The Wiso family, which includes two parents and nine children, is coming to our community from Syria.

The HRSC volunteers have been working hard over the last 11 months to prepare for the family’s arrival. Hundreds of people have given their time, financial and in-kind donations to the effort.

“We are looking forward to welcoming the Wiso family to the Haliburton Highlands. The community has been enthusiastically anticipating their arrival,” said David Barker, spokesman for the HRSC.

The committee asks that members of the community and the media give the Wiso family privacy while they adjust to their new home in their first days in Canada.

Updates from the committee

Things are well underway as we prepare for the refugee family coming to Haliburton from Syria. While we don’t know exactly when they’re coming, we do know the family is two parents and nine children. They’re awaiting a flight to Canada from Beirut, Lebanon, and we are ready to receive them!

The fundraising committee started us off with a tremendous effort. Through their efforts and the generosity of the full-time and seasonal residents, businesses and organizations of Haliburton County, we have raised sufficient funds to support the family for one year.

The house the family will be renting has undergone a complete makeover thanks to an army of volunteers painting, gardening, cleaning and furnishing. As you are all likely aware, the community has helped with this endeavour through financial donations and furnishings and other household items for the family. Thanks to volunteers, all of those donations have been organized to make the house a home.

Our transportation committee has been busy arranging for rides from the airport to Haliburton. We’ve compiled a list of several transportation options so that we’re ready to pick-up the family no matter the day or time. They are also working on a system to organize rides to appointments once the family is here.

The Trillium Lakelands District School Board has met with representatives of our ESL committee. Principals from all three schools the children will attend were at the meeting. We have a special room of the home set-up for schooling and a strong team of more than two dozen ESL volunteers ready to get started. This committee and the Welcome Wagon have also been lining up translations of documents and arranging for Arabic speaking translators for key meetings.

The Welcome Wagon has developed a booklet (also to be translated into Arabic) of information about living in Canada and the Highlands for the family and has people working on all of the financial aspects of living in their new country and home.

The health committee has been working hard to make sure our newcomers will be connected with dental, vision and general health services in the community and our Welcome Wagon group is preparing to help the family navigate all of the bureaucracy they’re about to encounter in Canada.

We’ve been in touch with the New Canadian Refugee Centre in Peterborough, which will be useful in the weeks and months ahead.

This process has been a lesson in the unending support of the community, the warm-heartedness of strangers and the strong humanitarian spirit of the Highlands. Thanks to all volunteers and supporters for your help!

We will continue to inform you of events as they occur. We know that you are all as anxious as us to meet the family and welcome them to our community.


Training this Tuesday

A reminder to all volunteers that training is happening Tuesday, June 21, at 6:30 p.m. Training is mandatory for volunteers and is being conducted by Ian McBride of AURA.

Training takes place at St. George’s Anglican Church on Mountain Street in Haliburton. Expect to be there for about three hours.

*For those who cannot make it, there will be a video recording made.

We would also like to say a huge thank you to the Shout Sisters choir, who put on a fantastic concert/fundraiser benefitting the refugees on Friday evening. The women even did a special song “Why We Build The Wall.” 

HRSC spokesperson David Barker speaks to the audience at the Shout Sisters concert June 17 about the refugee family coming to Haliburton. Photo by Jenn Watt


Haliburton refugee group to welcome family of 11

This press release has been updated to reflect a change in the number of family members expected. Originally, the committee was told the family would have 10 members. That figure has been revised to 11. 

After more than six months of organizing and fundraising, the Haliburton Refugee Sponsorship Committee is happy to announce that a refugee family from Syria will be joining the Haliburton Highlands community soon.

On Thursday, May 12, a representative of AURA (Anglican and United Refugee Alliance) delivered the good news to the committee.

The refugees, who are currently in Beirut, Lebanon, having fled Syria, include two parents and nine children, from infant to 19.

While few details are known at this time, the committee wishes to share the good news with the community and, in particular, the people who have supported the effort so far with their volunteer hours and crucial financial and in-kind donations.

“We are excited and delighted by this recent news,” says David Barker, spokesperson for the committee. “The Haliburton County community has been so positive about this endeavour and we are thrilled that the hard work of so many is coming to fruition.”

There is no set timeframe for when the family will arrive in the Highlands; however, it is estimated they will arrive this summer.

To find out more about the local initiative for refugees, visit the group’s website: or email

Fundraiser coming up April 10

Be sure to come out for our next fundraiser on Sunday, April 10 at Rhubarb in Carnarvon.


                             Hosted by RHUBARB and BOSHKUNG BREWERY

                          APRIL 10,  6-9 PM. Book your tickets at 705 489-4444

Keep Tuned for more info about our Live and Silent Auctions

                              Live Auction- BOAT CRUISE PACKAGE, Value $200   

                      Highland Boat Tours,1 1/2 hour Cruise on The Lady of the Lake                                                                            Bonnie View Inn $50 Gift Certificate


    Join us for delicious hors-d’oeuvres, locally crafted beer, wine and entertainment.

Final revision 3 Haliburton Refugee Sponsorship Fundraiser 2016 (1)


$44,000 in donations to date

A quick update for the community: so far, the Haliburton Refugee Sponsorship Committee has received some $44,133. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far.

The committee has split into various subcommittees including dozens of volunteers – more than 80 people have volunteered for something so far.

Volunteers have been tracking down housing, arranging health care, organizing furniture and clothing donations and co-ordinating paperwork.

We continue to await word from AURA on the next steps and will keep all volunteers up-to-date with our progress.

Again, thank you to all of the generous supporters from Haliburton County and beyond.

Fundraising goal within sight for refugees, volunteer meeting planned for Jan. 19

The Haliburton Highlands has come together over the last two months donating $25,000 toward the goal of $50,000 to bring a family of refugees to the village.

The grassroots group, Haliburton Refugee Sponsorship Committee, is overjoyed by the support from Haliburton County residents and is planning a community meeting.

“We are thrilled to have received so many offers of support and funds over the last two months. Haliburton is a truly giving community,” says David Barker, spokesperson for the committee.

On Tuesday, Jan. 19, anyone interested in volunteering, donating or hearing more about plans to bring refugees are asked to come to St. George’s Anglican Church, 617 Mountain Street, Haliburton, at 7 p.m.

The refugee committee is working with Anglican United Refugee Alliance (AURA), a charity based in Toronto. The local committee is a non-denominational group with varied membership and all are welcome.

To find out more about the committee or to make a donation, visit or email Donations are tax deductible.


About AURA

AURA is a Canadian charitable organization assisting in the sponsorship and resettlement of refugees. They represent the Anglican Diocese of Toronto and the Toronto Conference of the United Church of Canada as a Sponsorship Agreement Holder with Citizenship and Immigration Canada. In this capacity AURA facilitates the Private Sponsorship of Refugees by working with a coalition of churches and affiliated organizations to help refugees regardless of their religion, politics, gender, sexual orientation, race or nationality. (Source: AURA website:


About the global refugee crisis

According to AURA, there are more than 19 million refugees worldwide and nearly 60 million who have been displaced by conflict. In Canada, the federal government intends to take in 50,000 Syrian refugees in 2016. The United Nations Refugee Agency addresses the plight of refugees this way: “Refugees have to move if they are to save their lives or preserve their freedom. They have no protection from their own state – indeed it is often their own government that is threatening to persecute them. If other countries do not let them in, and do not help them once they are in, then they may be condemning them to death – or to an intolerable life in the shadows, without sustenance and without rights.” (Source:


We’ve hit $20,000

Photo: Celebrate a New Beginning by Ram Reddy

Thank you to all of the generous people of Haliburton County and beyond for helping us reach a new milestone (or kilometre marker – Canadian version!). As of today, we have raised $20,550 toward sponsoring a family of refugees here in Haliburton.

Want to donate? Click here.