Unofficial News . . .

I wish I had official news for all of you. We are still waiting but I want to share some news that we do have.  We have been told that the interviews with the Canadian Visa officers went very well. We were also told that the Visa officers were kind. They seemed to be surprised about the many things our families had gone through and the officers responded in positive, encouraging ways (unofficially). Our families signed some forms, they had their fingerprints taken, and they were told to go home and wait for a call about medical forms. Waiting can be so hard but we are optimistic and we look forward to good news…soon!

Thank you again for all of the kind thoughts and prayers and support.  When we have official news, I will let you know.

With great anticipation,

Cheryl Balay, President of AIRSS



1st Week of September Interviews!!!

Hello everyone, 

This week is an important and exciting time for AIRSS and our refugee families because of the upcoming interviews. Thanks be to God for these interviews with the Canadian Visa officer. We are also very thankful for everyone who advocated for our families. Thank you!!!


The interviews are scheduled to take place at 8:00 am in Uganda on Thurs, Sept 7th, 2017.  Because of time zones differences, the time will likely be quite different in your location...unless you are in Uganda!


For Alberta residents, when it is 8 am in Uganda on Thursday, the time will actually be 11 pm on Wednesday, September 6th Alberta time. (9 hour time difference for us)


For other Canadians and for our American supporters, your time may be different depending on your location. That is why I didn't write a date and time in the title. It could be September 6th or September 7th depending where you live. 


Argentine and Mapendo and their families are in our thoughts and prayers as they prepare, travel, and do the interviews. They are amazing people and they have endured so much to get to this point. Thank you again for everything you have done to help them.


If you are able, would you please join us in prayer? We pray for safe travels to the interview location, successful interviews with decisions to approve all of the family members for resettlement in Athabasca, and for everything that needs to happen for our families. Thank you!!!


With deepest appreciation,

Cheryl Balay, President of AIRSS

Interview Dates!

We have wonderful news to share! Argentine and Mapendo and their families have interviews scheduled with a Canadian Visa Officer  in the country where they are currently living. The interviews will take place at the end of the summer. 

We thank God that these interviews have been scheduled in the upcoming weeks.This is the next step that we have been waiting for so we are extremely thankful for everyone's support and all of the advocacy efforts during the past months. 

We will share further news when it is available. Thank you again for your interest and your support.

With deepest appreciation,

Cheryl Balay, President of AIRSS

World Refugee Day 2017

World Refugee Day

On this World Refugee Day, Tuesday, June 20th, 2017, we think about the refugee families we have sponsored and we celebrate the new lives and the new opportunities they have in Canada. We are thankful for each one of them.

AIRSS will continue to work towards the protection and resettlement of refugees who do not have another durable solution. At this time, we especially think about our current applications to sponsor Argentine and Mapendo and their families. The application and review processes for resettlement take a long time but each day is a step closer. We hope and pray that their applications will be approved very soon.

We are thankful for the wonderful support that we have received. Together we are making a difference!

We join with people around the world as we think about the immense courage of refugees in so many different parts of the world. We also think about the strength and resilience that is needed to survive.  We encourage you to do what you can do to help those in need.

With a very grateful heart and deepest appreciation

Cheryl Balay, President of AIRSS

We Celebrate Exciting Financial News with our Supporters!

Over the past months, AIRSS has been blessed with successful fundraising, prayers of many people, many donations from our community, family, friends and amazing support from the Shona Congo community, as well as recent generosity beyond our imagination. Today I have some unbelievable news to share!

 I am thrilled to announce that we have reached our initial fundraising goal of $58,500. Thanks be to God! When we started this journey, this goal seemed so far away and so difficult to achieve but today we celebrate this amazing milestone with all of you! 

How is this possible? A Shona Congo supporter, who wishes to remain anonymous, has miraculously donated over $30,000 to ensure that we would reach our goal. The donor has told us that this is a gift from God. We are deeply grateful for the generosity of this donor.  

 We are overwhelmed and we are deeply grateful to all of our donors, supporters, and fundraisers. On behalf of AIRSS and our families, we thank everyone who made all of this possible. This is truly a day to rejoice! 

 In the beginning of this journey, we set our original goal of $58,500 based on the Government of Canada's recommendations for private sponsorship groups. With this amount raised, we have reached the minimum required to provide for the living expenses of our two families until they are self-supporting.  These funds will provide the necessities for them as they focus on the important tasks of learning English and adjusting to life in Canada!

From here we will continue to fund raise beyond this minimum. We recognize that set-up and living expenses for 3 adults with disabilities and 6 children will exceed the basic amount of $58,500. We will continue our fundraising with the benefit of knowing that, thanks to so much generosity, we are well prepared to welcome our families whenever they arrive.

We wish we could also announce that our families will be arriving soon. However, their applications are still being processed so we are still asking for people to help us advocate for quicker processing of the application by contacting our Canadian government officials.

 If you haven't already done so, could you please send an email message to our government officials and/or share this opportunity with others? Please see information below for more details about this action item. Also, please note that there is different information for our Canadian supporters and our American supporters. Thank you!

Buy a beautiful bag from Shona Congo and support our refugee families.

Buy a beautiful bag from Shona Congo and support our refugee families.

Also, please remember that until the applications are approved, these families must remain as refugees in a neighboring African country where resources are extremely limited and conditions are difficult.  Argentine and Mapendo are paying for rent, health care and food for their families entirely through their sewing with SHONA Congo. You can help them by buying a beautiful, handcrafted, high quality bag that they have made at  Each bag that you buy provides enough money for one family to eat for 2 days!  Thank you for considering this opportunity to support their work so they can support their families.

 With a very grateful heart and deepest appreciation,

Cheryl Balay, President of AIRSS