One woman’s tumultuous journey fleeing from abuse ends with a pleasant surprise! A phone call.

It was the night before Elise was to leave Canada, deported back to El Salvador, a country she had fled more than four years ago. She was overcome with feelings of sadness, fear, regret and immense disappointment. To have her dream of a life of freedom come so tantalizingly close, only to be snatched away, her last hope denied, was painful.

She had applied for refugee status in January 2012, after escaping threats and intimidation in her hometown. Her son had been murdered, her daughter assaulted, and the perpetrators threatened her life should she report it. Elise escaped, found her way to Canada and made her refugee claim at the border. Her claim was denied.

Arriving in Waterloo and with support from the Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support (MCRS), she requested a judicial review. Again, she was denied. Still determined, she applied for Permanent Residence under Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds, an application that cannot prevent deportation.

The stress and uncertainty began to play havoc with her health, and it became hard for her to work. She was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Diabetes, and was hospitalized due to an infection in her foot. The government’s policy at the time of denying health care to certain classes of failed refugee claimants directly affected Elise. MCRS supported her and assisted in advocating for funds to cover the cost of her medical bills.

A letter in the mail. The deportation letter instructing her to purchase a plane ticket and leave Canada arrived. She was devastated. She had worked so hard for so long, always clinging to the hope, however slim, that she would be allowed to stay; that she would be granted a chance.

But the day came. Elise bought her ticket and packed her belongings. She prepared herself to leave for the airport the next morning, anticipating the life of constant fear she had left in El Salvador years ago.

A phone call!

It’s about your deportation. You don’t have to go! Your Humanitarian and Compassionate application has been accepted. You are accepted.

You can stay!

She was stunned; amazed! We at MCRS did not believe it when she told us, so we were quite concerned! But this persistent woman came in with her letter once it arrived and we read it together. It was true! She could stay! She could build a future for her family!

“I feel so grateful to everyone who supported me. Here is a chance for a new life, a different life,” she says, “I can move forward and am so thankful to MCRS as they have walked with me on this journey. They give people like me hope.”

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