What kind of volunteer work have you done for Together Project?
Together Project matched me with four other Welcome Group members. The family we are volunteering with are originally from Syria. The other group members and I usually take turns visiting the family on weekends to help with things like homework or arranging medical appointments. We also help them become familiar with online services. The family seems to be very comfortable with all group members and frequently asks us for advice and guidance. We were able to achieve multiple goals with the family members. For example, we found the desired high school for one family member and we helped the father get a job at a top-tier grocery story by preparing him for the interview and for the training orientations.
Why did you decide to volunteer?
Refugees and newcomers are coming from all over the world to Canada. This makes Canada really different and beautiful. Refugees and newcomers are a vital part of our society and initiatives like Together Project can help make services more accessible for them. As for me, I want to be connected to these communities and to learn more about their different cultures and traditions. And volunteering makes me feel happy and like a valued member of my society.
What do you hope to accomplish through your efforts?
Refugees are usually happy and full of ambition for their future when they arrive in Canada. Unfortunately the reality can be different than what they anticipated and it requires time and effort for them to deal with the culture shock. Helping them integrate and get settled while keeping their morale up is my biggest accomplishment.
How are you helping to build more welcoming communities in Canada?
I’m mainly volunteering with Together Project, which gives me the opportunity to help newcomers through different means. I also participate in a co-working space that provides English language classes to newly arrived Japanese people, which gives me the chance to learn more about these communities and their culture.
Is there anything you would like to share with people who are thinking about getting involved?
The Together Project team has been amazing. In terms of welcoming refugee newcomers and the strategy of matching them with volunteers, it seems to be really helpful for both the newcomers and the volunteers. The Welcome Group Program gives volunteers the chance to participate in their community, to give back, and to learn more about different cultures and newcomer communities. I would encourage everyone who is thinking about volunteering with Together Project to go ahead and make a difference in newcomers’ lives, and, at the same time, bring fun and fulfillment into their own lives.
Interview by Hussein El Akaber