November 20, 2017

Martharlen’s story was featured in the Ottawa Citizen – an amazing three-page article by Blair Crawford. Thank you, Blair, for such a great piece. Read the story here.

Martharlen by Wayne Cuddington

Photo by Wayne Cuddington

Here’s how to make a donation to support Martharlen and her family.

September 27, 2017

This past year, the Poplar Project was lucky to be matched with a wonderful woman, Martharlen, who travelled from the Ivory Coast as a refugee. In doing so, she left behind her life and family, including an elderly mother as well as two young boys, aged 12 + 17, who had gone missing during times of war almost 5 years prior to her departure.

Martharlen made the difficult decision to leave Ivory Coast with the hope of one day being reunited with her boys and of creating a better life for them in Canada. Since arriving, she has been unstoppable in her pursuit– attending workshops, computer courses, and school to soak up as much learning as possible. She’s also found her own community of support, extending beyond our small sponsorship group. She greets every challenge and every opportunity with a bright, courageous smile that is truly infectious to be around.

A few short months ago, Martharlen received a phone call from Ivory Coast that changed everything. Her eldest boy had arrived at her mother’s doorstep! And what’s more, he delivered news that he had been living with his younger brother, and that they were both safe and sound. Martharlen was ecstatic. Words cannot describe the emotions we all felt when we heard the news. Her prayers had truly been answered. Today, the boys are both reunited with Martharlen’s mother in Ivory Coast. Now the work begins to reunite this family in Canada after so many years of separation.

According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s One Year Window policy on family members left behind, Martharlen has one year following her arrival to Canada last September to locate her sons and start the application to bring them to Canada. Since they’ve been located, the paperwork is in the works. It remains unclear how long it will take to arrange for her boys to get to Canada, but there is no doubt that they will require support – financial, emotional, and more – upon arrival.  

As such, we sought out new Poplar family members to join us in assisting this growing family on their Canadian journey.

And we found our Dream Team- a strong group of 13! Welcome to the family, Katharine, Sara, James, Hilary,  and Omar.

*new family photo is on its way!*

We’re busy with all the preparation required to get Martharlen’s boys to Canada. We’ll require all your support! More specific tasks will emerge, but for now please consider a donation to directly help with their settlement: How to give.

In solidarity,

The Poplar Project

Martharlen, Tamara, Susan, Kathryn, Kelly, Erin, Joanne, Rachel, Katharine, Sara, James, Hilary,  and Omar.


September 13, 2017

Martharlen has now celebrated her first year in Canada. It’s been an amazing journey.

One of the many things she’s been up to is singing! Here’s a taste of the small community she’s become a part of: The One World Choir! They had a spot on CBC Radio Morning- check it out! Martharlen shares her favourite song + her beautiful voice.



For more info on the choir, follow the link and check out the pic of Poplar members Tamara and Martharlen: http://www.worldfolkmusicottawa.com/one-world-choir.html


Keep your eyes peeled for future tour dates!

Spring 2017

In September 2016, Martharlen arrived in Canada, as a refugee from Cote d’Ivoire, with a small suitcase and a $2,500 debt to the Canadian government.

Since she arrived, Martharlen has been adapting to her new life in Ottawa, going to school, singing in a choir, making some new friends, and learning to navigate winter.

We are looking for 100 friends to donate $25 – or 25 friends to give $100 – to help her zero that debt.


The travel debt was, unfortunately, a surprise for our sponsorship group, the Poplar Project. We raised an incredible $15,000 for Martharlen’s first year in Canada – but that won’t cover the debt.


Could you help? Donating can be done online or by post, and you will receive an official tax receipt from Jewish Family Services. Check your payment options here.

Thank you for continuing to be an integral part of this beautiful community.