Some Christmas wishes really do come true. For the last four years Guido Niyokwizigira, who was forced to flee the eruption of violence in his native Burundi, has been living and working in Ottawa while waiting and praying for his family to be granted refugee status in Canada. His hopes of being reunited with his wife and two sons came true this past Christmas Eve. The reunion with his family was especially joyous; it was his first time meeting his youngest son Caleb as he was forced to flee before his birth.
Having lived, worked, and volunteered in Ottawa for the last four years, Guido is well prepared to help his family settle into their new home. Despite the additional hardship of dealing with COVID-19, he has wasted no time in moving forward with laying the groundwork for his family’s future. He is working on finding language training for his wife Marie-Claire and his oldest son Kenny, whose goal is to study computer engineering. MarieClaire is seeking to secure a volunteer position at their local community centre. She is a trained accountant who hopes to secure employment in her field as soon as possible. As native Burundians, the family’s first language is French, which will be of benefit to them here in our bilingual city and country.
Guido has been closely connected with Trinity Anglican Church throughout his time in Ottawa. The church has assisted him in both practical ways (helping with much needed items such as winter boots) and the spiritual/emotional aspects of living by opening their hearts and community to him and his family. Under the leadership of Reverend Arran Thorpe, Trinity also actively supported Guido’s efforts to obtain visas for his family to allow them to come to Canada. Reverend Thorpe helped to connect Guido with organizations in his field. Guido is a trained economist. He was employed as a lecturer in economics at the public university in Burundi and he has 10 years of experience in project evaluation/management. His goal is to work for the Canadian government in the area of international development. In addition to working to earn enough to sustain himself and his family, he is also a volunteer at the Lowertown Community Resource Center.
Once receiving very last minute word that Guido’s family had been granted Canadian visas, Reverend Thorpe called upon his congregation at Trinity Anglican and The Ottawa South Committee for Refugee Support (OSCRS) to help prepare a home for the family. Good quality donated furniture was offered and a group of volunteers came together to move the furniture and to help set up the family’s home. A clothing/household item drive was held and many generous donations were received and delivered to the family. Guido wishes to extend his heartfelt appreciation for the donations and assistance. He has said many times that he “ cannot find enough words of thanks.” He is an inspirational person. We are fortunate to have him and his family in our community.
Trinity Anglican Church works in direct partnership with The Ottawa South Committee for Refugee Support and other community groups supporting refugees. Over the last seven years, Trinity has helped to sponsor 46 refugees and to raise over $350,000 to help cover the basic costs of refugee sponsorship. Currently, OSCRS is actively working to help bring a Congolese refugee family waiting in South Africa. The ongoing need to advocate and raise desperately needed funds continues unabated. Donations are welcome. If you would like to contribute please write a cheque to Trinity Anglican Church and mark it for refugee support. Cheques can be sent to 1230 Bank St., Ottawa, K1S 3Y3 to receive a tax receipt. OSCRS can also be found on Canada Helps. www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/ trinity-anglican-church
Cindy May is a resident of Old Ottawa South and a member of OSCRS.
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