- Open Homes Hamilton is a ministry of IAFR which works to establish a multi-church network supporting refugee claimants in Hamilton Ontario, Canada. The strategy of Open Homes is home-based hospitality.
Each church contributes “Hosts” who offer space in their home for a newly arrived refugee claimant to live for 2 to 4 months. Churches also provide “Companions” who volunteer to provide settlement support and friendship. The Open Homes leadership team ensures that refugee claimants have access to the information and community resources they need to navigate the refugee claim process.
Many refugee claimants are arriving in the city of Hamilton, but a lack of space in shelters leaves people vulnerable to homelessness and exploitation. Currently the number of refugee claimants arriving in Hamilton far exceeds the capacity of the only refugee-specific shelter in the city.
Hospitality is core to the Christian faith. When the Bible speaks of hospitality, it is specifically talking about showing love to foreigners and strangers. Open Homes is a great way for Christians to live out the spiritual practice of hospitality.
Learn more about Open Homes Hamilton.
In Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada, IAFR partners with local churches and organizations to provide pastoral support and trauma care for refugees and refugee claimants. Working very closely with our partner Naomi House, a home for refugee claimants to Winnipeg, IAFR has established a number of trauma care healing groups in the city, and also has worked one-on-one with individuals in need of trauma counselling.
IAFR also works with churches in Winnipeg to help them better understand how they can more effectively come alongside refugees in their city.
The Peoples House is a ministry of The Peoples Church in Toronto, Canada, and is supported by the IAFR team. The Peoples House was created in response to the increased demand for safe housing for refugee claimants in Toronto. The Peoples Church has responded to this need by providing a safe home for approximately 8 to 14 refugee claimants at a time who would otherwise have no safe place in Toronto. Residents stay at the house for approximately 4 months while they go through the initial stages of the refugee claim process and get established in their new city and country.
The house provides a safe environment, as well as physical, spiritual and emotional support for everyone who lives there. The ministry also provides an opportunity for people to build friendships with their fellow residents as well as church volunteers, while offering practical help with the many challenges that face new arrivals to Canada.
Music has the power to bring people together, and to bring healing, hope and joy to people who have experienced challenges and trauma. Refuge Gospel Choir is an initiative of Don Valley Bible Chapel in Toronto with the support of IAFR Canada. This choir, which began in 2019, is a family-friendly choir for people with lived refugee experience.
The choir rehearses weekly at Don Valley Bible Chapel and performs at various churches and events - spreading joy while educating people about the realities and the great capacities of people with refugee backgrounds.
IAFR Canada is working alongside youth workers from Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services, Toronto Police Services, community workers and families in the Regent Park and Moss Park communities of Toronto to offer a pro-social, fun and educational weekly program for children. The goal of this initiative is to help a small, hand-selected group of children, many of whom come from refugee families, build the knowledge, emotional capacities and personal connections they will need to overcome significant challenges and behaviour they may face as they grow up in a sometimes-challenging environment.
IAFR Canada works closely with our partner, I Live Again Uganda (ILA), to bring support to refugees in Uganda, through the provision of Trauma Counseling, Faith Based Support, Resettlement, and Community Development to individuals, families and communities affected by the 23 year civil war that impacted the northern region of the country. Presently, Uganda has welcomed the most refugees on the continent of Africa. The majority of refugees in Uganda are from South Sudan. The main focus of ILA's services to refugees from South Sudan is mental health/psychosocial support. Programs are provided in villages that were directly affected by the civil war, as well as in Acholi Quarter, which is an urban displacement community found in Kampala.
In addition, Potter's House is a partnership initiative between IAFR Canada and ILA. Site plans have been prepared and ILA and IAFR are looking forward to advancing the development of the 23 acres of land in Uganda's northern region. The Potter's House will be a place of encounter for individuals and families that are in need of counseling. The time that individuals will have at The Potter’s House will bring hope, healing and identity through various trauma counseling and therapeutic services, including music, art, pottery and play.
Lastly, in 2020 ILA and IAFR identified the fact that, due to crowded conditions, difficulties accessing soap and water, and many underlying preexisting health conditions, refugees living in refugee camps were particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. We worked together to supply soap to residents of the Palabek Camp in Lamwo Uganda. The soap distribution was coordinated along with the UNHCR, and focused on supporting the most vulnerable refugees, including pregnant women and mothers with babies, as well as malnourished children.
Due to restrictions and isolation, lack of food also became an enormous need. IAFR and ILA worked together to provide food, as well as soap, for those for those who are victims of war living in Acholi Quarter.
- IAFR Canada is working with our partners Health Partners International Canada (HPIC), There is Hope, and IAFR USA, to bring much needed health supples into Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi.
Dzaleka health centre, located in Dzaleka Refugee Camp is a government owned facility supported by UNHCR which serves the population in the camp and host community. The clinic provides primary health care services to a catchment population estimated to be over 80,000 persons.
Essential drugs are provided by central medical stores, UNHCR procurement and support from other partners, but supplies are inadequate to meet the demand.
HPIC works to supply medicine where most needed around the world. IAFR Canada, along with IAFR USA and There is Hope (Malawi), is working with HPIC to provide medicine to Dzaleka. This includes 20 Humanitarian Medical Kits (HMKs) available that will add up to 12,000 treatments of molecules as itemized in the normal essential medicines in demand for this health clinic. Each kit has up to 600 treatments for primary health care.
- IAFR Canada is working alongside our partner in Beirut, Lebanon – the Beirut Nazarene Church (BNC) to support refugees living in Beirut. These refugees have primarily fled from Syria, but also Iraq and other countries. BNC is located in Karm El Zeitoun, Beirut, a highly populated area, home to Lebanese and many other nationalities.
IAFR supports BNC in providing schooling for refugee children. Currently at BNC, 100 elementary-school-aged children who are not able to enroll in formal schools, gain the knowledge and qualifications necessary to eventually join official Lebanese schools.
IAFR has also come alongside BNC’s medical clinic, which operates bi-weekly out of the church, serving 50 to 70 patients each session.
Thirdly, in response to the great economic need facing families, an exciting initiative has begun in partnership with the Beirut team. Loving Hands, launched in April 2021, is a social enterprise that offers much needed holistic support for families in Beirut. The women are given the opportunity to use their sewing skills to earn an income for their family and at the same time they are being mentored and discipled. They are creating a community who provide emotional and spiritual support for one another in a natural, organic way as they work side-by-side. This is a sister to the thriving Hopeful Hands project in Iraq.
IAFR's fourth project in partnership with BNC is the "Meet and Eat" initiative. This program was created in response to the enormous challenge of the current economic crisis in Lebanon. In this program, families are invited to share a meal at the church. Over food, they have the opportunity to share their struggles and challenges, while receiving a delicious meal, friendship and prayer. 10 families a week are invited to relax and enjoy food cooked by a Syrian chef, providing them with the familiar tastes of home.
- In Cairo, Egypt, IAFR Canada has come alongside our partner, African Hope Learning Centre (AHLC), to help provide schooling for refugee children to Egypt.
AHLC is located in a relatively small building, that once housed a family of 8 in Cairo. Every possible space is utilized, with both morning and afternoon shifts, in order to accommodate the more than 450 students, kindergarten to grade 8, who have sought refuge in Egypt due to war, violence and persecution in their home countries.
Due to overcrowding and prejudice in local schools, refugee children need alternate learning centres. AHLC is a safe place of learning where refugee children from over 9 different African nations receive instruction in core subjects, character training, access to basic health care and a nutritious, hot meal each day. School fees are kept as low as possible, covering 30% of running costs, in order to welcome the most children while respecting their unique economic situation.
IAFR has come alongside AHLC by providing short-term personnel support to the school classrooms, as well as establishing a guitar and ukulele program for students. This musical instruction has been a challenging and healing exercise for the children, and a lot of fun!
IAFR is looking for volunteer teachers and administrators to reinforce the AHLC team. If you are interested in exploring this opportunity, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Twice a year, workers and teams from IAFR Canada visit Iraq to offer support to vulnerable women who have experienced forced displacement. IAFR workers host events for women and also visit refugee families in their homes.
As a result of these visits, and in response to the great economic need facing refugee families, an exciting initiative has begun in partnership with a local church in Erbil, Iraq. Hopeful Hands, started in October 2017, is a social enterprise that offers much needed holistic support for displaced and refugee women. The women are given the opportunity to use their sewing skills to earn an income for their family and at the same time they are being mentored and discipled. They are creating a community who provide emotional and spiritual support for one another in a natural, organic way as they work side-by-side. Currently this sewing project is providing income for 29 displaced women and their families in Erbil.
- In 2019 an IAFR team, along with our partner 24-7 Prayer Canada, visited Chiapas Mexico for a prayer pilgrimage. Many thousands of displaced people continue to cross the southern border of Mexico as they flee numerous conflicts and struggles in Latin and South America, as well as Haiti and numerous African countries. Representatives from IAFR and 24-7 visited various cities in Chiapas, as well as across the Guatemalan border, where, along with local churches, we prayed with people walking this portion of the refugee highway.
This was a pilot project in which IAFR and 24-7 sought to understand how best to pray for, and with, displaced people on their actual journey in search of safety. Our plan is that this will be the first of many opportunities for us to join people along the refugee highway, praying with local churches and seeing how God is at work.
IAFR Canada partners with the 24-7 Prayer movement to mobilize prayer for and with refugees both in Canada and around the world. IAFR seeks to support 24-7’s prayer initiatives: Connecting churches to refugees in Canada and around the world; training missionaries for hospitality and cross-cultural engagement; mobilizing and equipping churches to intercede effectively for displaced people, welcoming communities, and policy-makers; and initiate projects that highlight the refugee experience and the love God has for his vulnerable children.