Khagendra Ghimire was forced to flee his home country of Bhutan when he was only 15.
Fearing for his life, he travelled with his family to a refugee camp in Nepal for what was initially only supposed to be a short stay.
That was in 1992.
Some 21 years later, Ghimire, now with a wife and two sons, was still living in the refugee camp.
"It was a bad life," he says. "Even with a tailoring background, and selling clothes, it was hard to survive."
Ghimire’s lucky day, however, came when his family was chosen by Canada for private refugee sponsorship through CREST, the Charleswood Refugee Economic Sponsorship Team.
Gloria Dei Lutheran, Faith Works Mennonite Brethren, Charleswood United and Charleswood Mennonite are four churches in Charleswood that work together to sponsor refugee families identified by the Canadian government to come to Canada. The group has been sponsoring refugees together since 1999 and is currently celebrating its 15th anniversary.
Bruce Berven is the chair of CREST. For him, being involved with refugee sponsorship is a way to make a concrete difference in someone else’s life.
"We can’t save the world," he says. "But we can help one person, or one refugee family. It’s always pleasantly surprising how much support that comes out from the Charleswood community for CREST."
Ghimire’s family has now been in Canada several months and is in the midst of experiencing its first winter.
"It’s good living here — but cold," he says. "There are things like good education and good medical care for the children. In the refugee camp, there were no opportunities, and no jobs.
"We are very grateful to be here."
Amanda Thorsteinsson is a community correspondent for Charleswood.