Fatmata Kargbo and her sons 12-year-old Thaduba and 6-year-old Mathebhe are working to turn a safe haven into a home after seeking sanctuary at Crestview Fellowship Church.

"I have (my) heart breaking. I'm really thankful for the church family and people around me and friends,” Fatmata said.

The family was supposed to be deported to Sierra Leone in early April.

Fatmata and her boys came to Winnipeg in 2016 with her then husband on Visitor Visas for a wedding.

Her husband left them about two weeks later, going back to Sierra Leone and divorcing her, she said.

Fatmata says that's when she felt her only option was to stay in Canada.

"I have nowhere to go, nowhere to live,” said Fatmata, adding she applied for refugee status but was denied.

She said she was also turned down when she applied to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Fatmata and her sons are desperate to stay in Canada and stressed to CTV News they would not be safe in Sierra Leone.

"I'm afraid that I'm going to lose my life," said Thaduba.

The church has hired a lawyer to appeal the deportation. In the meantime, it's installed a shower for the family and a washer and dryer. A small room downstairs serves as a classroom for the boys.

"She is seeking sanctuary and that's something border services will honour, but they don't necessarily have to," said Crestview Fellowship pastor Darrel Guenther.

“They could walk in right now and take them. We were very upfront with them. We want to be honest in what we do."

Fatmata obtained a work permit and told CTV News a job in housekeeping had allowed her to rent an apartment for her family. 

"I can't go to my job. My kids can't go outside. Every day they say 'oh mom we want to go outside. We miss our friends,” Fatmata said.

While Fatmata admitted the situation was not ideal, she told CTV News she would do whatever she could to keep her children in Canada so they could have a better life. 

Immigration Canada told CTV News a temporary resident visa was issued for Fatmata in 2016, and confirmed that her applications for a refugee claim, as well as permanent residence under humanitarian and compassionate grounds and a pre-removal risk assessment were all denied. 

The agency said the officer evaluating her pre-removal risk assessment application was not satisfied  the family would face more than a possibility of persecution should they return to Sierra Leone.