Sophie McCann is a program director and advocate with experience in international development and human rights advocacy in the UK and internationally. She specializes in refugee and migrants’ rights and community-based mental health and gender programming. Sophie is part of the Lamp Lifeboat Ladder team focusing on organizational development and communications.
International Migrants Day reminds us about the Lamp Lifeboat Ladder community
Tomorrow, 18 December, is International Migrants Day, a day designed to encourage us to think about the challenges and difficulties of international migration. This year’s theme – It Takes a Community – seeks to remind us of our interdependence, our common humanity and the special and unique contributions we make to our shared communities. Whilst I think that term ‘migrant’ is under-inclusive, fails to fully describe the plight of people forced to flee their homeland and has become a broadly pejorative term, this year’s theme reminded me of the holistic accompaniment approach we have at Lamp Lifeboat Ladder. We believe in walking with survivors, holding their hand, carrying their children, listening to them and being the best lawyers, advocates, doctors and allies we possibly can.
So, in thinking about unique and special contributions we all make to our shared communities, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some of the highlights from a very busy year at Lamp Lifeboat Ladder:
- We've submitted 15 resettlement cases of people who have survived torture and/or sexual violence under the Greece-Jordan-Canada program. Canada has approved every case.
- We have resettled 36 survivors of torture and sexual violence to several locations in Canada; Five more survivors are approved for travel and will hopefully continue their journey to Canada early in the new year, bringing the total number of people starting a new life in Canada to 41, including 22 children!
- We're working with survivors from Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, Cameroon, Togo, Iraq, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
- We are currently building up the legal cases of 24 women survivors in Greece most of whom have experienced trafficking or rape and other forms of sexual violence. The majority of these women are from Afghanistan, the DR Congo or Cameroon. Many of these women are single mothers. Whilst they remain in Greece, we also provide them with wrap-around support including safe housing, medical care, financial support and other things they tell us they want in order to feel safe.
- We are building the legal cases for 21 survivors in Jordan, mainly Syrian and Sudanese women who survived sexual violence. We also provide them with similar wrap-around support, as we do with those in Greece.
- Lamp Lifeboat Ladder has been guided and led by our Survivors Council, comprised of 13 survivors who guide us in our work so that we are sure we understand what survivors in our project need in order to rebuild their lives after torture and trauma. We are currently expanding our survivors’ network to encompass survivors who have already resettled in Canada, as well as those currently in Greece who are getting ready to make the journey to Canada.
- Our resident poet and cheesemaker Ahmad, who is also a member of the Survivors Council along with his wife, resettled to Alberta with his wife, addressed an audience about his journey to safety from Syria to Canada at an event curated by Refugee Action Fund.
- We have supported a group called the Dream Girls, comprised of girls and young women who have survived war, violence and trauma. They chose the name for their group because they want us to see them as dreamers, not victims. Three of the girls travelled to Canada this year through Lamp Lifeboat Ladder’s program. We’re building cases for two more girls this month. Two are aspiring lawyers; one wants to be a doctor; another a teacher.
- This year we have continued to develop our partnerships with Doctors Without Borders, the Melissa Network, HIAS, CVT – Jordan, the Canadian Center for Victims of Torture, Jesuit Refugee Services, YWCA and many others.
- We have established and trained wonderful Ally Groups in Canada who provide accompaniment support to survivors and their families when they resettle in Canada.
- We have recruited two wonderful accompaniment coordinators in Athens and are aiming to recruit a new Canada coordinator in the new year. Our team in Jordan, London, Canada and the United States continued to work incredibly hard this year.
- Our unique project has been nominated for an award by American Lawyer Media’s Legalweek publication in its annual ‘Innovation in pro bono’ category. We find out if we win in February 2022 – finger crossed!!
Thank you for your unwavering interest in, encouragement and support for Lamp Lifeboat Ladder – we’re very grateful. We’re looking forward to what 2022 brings us!
Help us aid refugees who have survived torture and trauma to discover a new life by supporting their relocation to Canada.