Sam, Nipa and their 4 children dream of a stable, safe home in Canada. Eight years ago, Sam was forced to flee his home in Pakistan, or face death for his Christian faith.

Now a refugee in Thailand, Sam, his partner Nipa and their children have lived in legal and emotional limbo ever since. Sam can’t work to support his family, and Nipa lives with the daily threat of Sam being separated from her and the kids if he is picked up for arbitrary detention.

They deserve better. By becoming a sponsor or a donor, you can help.

Name: Sam, Nipa, Ester (6), Issac (4), Liora (2) and Will (10 months)
Christian family living stateless in Thailand
UNHCR certified, Sam has strong English, Sam & Nipa have their own film production company
Risk of staying in Thailand:
Arrest, detention (he has been jailed twice already); family split apart
Risk of returning:
Death at the hands of extremists in Pakistan
The Opportunity:
Private sponsorship to Canada
Financial Need:
$35,500 CAD (or $29,400 USD)

Their Story

Sam was born in Pakistan to a Christian family. Christians are a minority in Pakistan, and Al-Qaeda target Christians because of their faith. Sam experienced discrimination and persecution even as a child.

Nipa is Thai. She met Sam in Thailand, where they fell in love and started their family. Sam has no status in Thailand as a refugee. They can’t be married. He can’t become a Thai citizen. They must find a new country for their family to call home.

“We are losing our present, and our children are losing their future. I have been here in Bangkok for over 8 years now and UNHCR cannot promise anything.” - Sam

Extortion and Death Threats

As a young man, Sam ran a small printing shop to support his parents and siblings. That is, until religious extremists targeted his shop for extortion. As a Christian in Pakistan, Sam was very vulnerable to the false accusation of blasphemy under Islamic law. The extortion was so high that he could never earn enough to pay.

He had only one choice – flee or be killed. He was able to escape and hide. While in hiding, his cousin was falsely accused of blasphemy and shot to death in cold blood. The authorities offered no help.

Fleeing to Thailand

On October 14, 2013, Sam fled to Thailand to seek asylum. UNHCR gave him refugee status. He was told that UNHCR would process his papers as an asylum seeker and resettle him in a country, where he can practice his Christian faith and start his life freely. Although he would be far from his family, it was the perfect plan and solution.

He did not know that resettlement would never come – that was 8 years ago.

Weeks and months passed. Sam’s visa expired, and his savings dwindled to nothing. He found out that his application is still in the queue and that UNHCR Bangkok has thousands of backlogs.

“My status is a refugee for nearly 5 years. But we may not work without a work permit. They only gave us work permits if we have proper visas. Fear of being caught is a possibility always waiting to happen and returning to Pakistan where persecution awaits me is not a choice.”
– Sam

Finding a Soul Mate

At the height of hiding, Sam and Nipa and fell in love. In 2015, Ester was born. Ester is now almost 7 years old. She is a proud big sister of Issac (4), Liora (2) and Will (10 months). Ester attends grade 1, online.

“Ester loves to teach everything and everyone. I mean, not only her siblings, but the toys, plants, and even her vegetables.” - Sam

To support them Sam works odd jobs, all while playing hide and seek with the immigration police.

“My children have the same wishes that other children expect from their parents. Ester wants Elsa's dresses and Issac wants Spiderman clothes. But because of the pandemic, I can't buy new clothes for them. The hardest thing about living with no money is that we can’t do anything. We’re stuck in all the time. We wear second-hand clothes, and the food budget is really tight all the time. Mostly, I struggle with the bills. We have moved to 4 places in these 2 years.” - Sam

Threat of Detention

Sam, Nipa and the children live with the constant threat of Sam being taken from his family and placed in a Thai detention centre. During a medical check-up for his daughter, the police arrested Sam. With his family in mind, Sam escaped.

Thailand is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention or the 1967 protocol. That means it does not have any proper or fair way to deal with refugees. At any moment, police or immigration forces can arrest refugees and send them to an immigration detention centre.

Perhaps you’ve seen pictures of refugees – children and parents and grandparents – packed into cages in Thailand. Those are families being brought to the immigration detention centres.

Sam has been jailed twice for his refugee status. The family is always in the fear of Sam being put back in jail. Now with four kids, Sam and Nipa just want a fair chance to provide their kids with food, an education, their Christian faith, a decent dwelling place, and a future far from what Sam had.

“As [our children] have grown older and started school, I feel as though I have woken up into a nightmare. The daily fear of being caught and its alarming consequences filled me with horror and was almost paralyzed by them.” - Sam

The pandemic has made life for Sam and Nipa even more difficult. They couldn't pay their rent and buy groceries. They have not lost hope, appealing to the UNHCR since September 2020, but no aid has come. Still, Sam and Nipa are determined to succeed. They have tried working in the film industry and even started their own production company. But all their hard work has failed to lift them above the poverty line.

The Opportunity

The good news - because Sam has UNHCR's refugee status, his entire family can be privately sponsored to come to Canada. A group of us, including Ron Richmond, Safwa Mahmood, Kendra Hawke and Stephen Watt are working to do just that.

Before we can submit an application, however, we need to we have 3 more sponsors and enough funds for his first 12 months of life in Canada. According to Canadian Immigration, the funds must be raised first and held in trust before the sponsorship application can move forward.

The minimum set by Canadian immigration is $35,500 CAD (which is $29,500 USD) to settle a refugee family for one year. More is better, but this is the minimum to start the sponsorship process with the government of Canada.

The funds raised will all go entirely towards Sam, Nipa and their family for their first year of expenses.

If you can help, please click on the “Donate” button. Every dollar brings us one step to our goal:

We are also building a team of sponsors to bring Sam's family to Canada. If you can help Sam's family as a sponsor, please contact Stephen Watt (in Toronto). You can also reach out to Sam directly on his Facebook here.

Reach out and discover how wonderful it is to privately sponsor a good family to start a new life - with your help - in Canada!

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