Kenyans living in Canada have raised Ksh1.5 million to assist more than 20 compatriots sleeping in the streets of Toronto.
The fundraising effort that garnered widespread attention and support began as a grassroots movement among Kenyans living in various cities across Canada. They raised funds through various crowdfunding platforms, community events, and social media campaigns.
Speaking to the press, Steven Safari, a Kenyan residing in the city, said that the situation had become alarming after photos circulated online of Kenyans sleeping on the side of the road.
He added that the situation was escalating as various agents were conning Kenyans out of their hard-earned money with the promise of a better life abroad.
Photo collage of a town in Canada and travellers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
Through the charity drive, the funds were raised to assist in buying 200 tents, gumboots, gloves and other attire in readiness for the winter season.
Safari questioned why many foreigners were being duped and spent almost a million, leaving their families to relocate to a new country and sleep on the streets.
“More than 20 Kenyans are sleeping in the streets of Toronto, with some having used over Ksh500,000 to move from Kenya to Canada through agents,” he lamented.
“Most Kenyans are going to Canada through agents, go through visit visa and hoping to change to their status by claiming for Asylum. The high number of those seeking Asylum has increased and has thus strained the Canadian government’s capacity to provide basic needs to the applicants who are therefore left stranded.”
Homeless Kenyans account for many asylum seekers fleeing their homeland or facing political instability.
In a past interview with CBC News in Canada, Susan Toth, a worker at the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) program, attributed the rise of asylum seekers to people facing discrimination and seeking a better life abroad.
As a result, this creates a housing crisis in the country, with a huge demand for people working in Canada.
“They’re not here to add more to our housing crisis. There is a huge demand for working people in Canada as well. So let’s welcome refugees. Let’s be the community we’re supposed to be,” Toth urged.
A queue at the Department of Immigration Services Passport control office at Nyayo House in Nairobi for application and renewal of Passports in this photo taken on May 21, 2018