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Jul20

Turning Peel into Home for Newcomers: Kawthar’s Story

Thankfully, many of us don’t know what it’s like to call a war-torn country home. Yes, we see the turmoil. Yes, we feel sympathy. And, definitely, some of us feel called to action. So, what can we do for those coming to Canada from unimaginable circumstances?

We can help them feel safe and at home right here in Peel Region.

When newcomers from Syria began arriving in Canada last year, several of our funded agencies stepped up to support their settlement in Peel.

We held an Iftar event for Syrian newcomers at one of our funded agencies, Polycultural Immigrant and Community Services, at the Sheridan Centre in Mississauga on Thursday, June 8, 2017.

Iftar brings together members of the Muslim community to break their daily fast during Ramadan, and three new families came out to celebrate their first Ramadan in Canada that Thursday.

At the event, we learned the very real impact that our actions can have in making Peel feel like home through young Kawthar Almohamad.

Iftar32

Kawthar is a young girl with a hearing and speech impediment who moved here with her family from Syria. The majority of Kawthar’s life was spent either in a state of war or as a refugee in terrible living conditions.

As the families broke their fasts and mingled at our event, the kids got together for some arts and crafts to design posters.

For Kawthar, her poster was all about the memories she has made in Canada. Even further, her poster reflected how relieved and overjoyed she felt during the Iftar dinner. It was so different from any she had experienced.

According to her father, the reception Kawthar received in Canada was so overwhelmingly positive that she was inspired to showcase those feelings.

In her short past, war and terrible conditions were her reality. Now, Kawthar feels like she finally has a home – right here in Peel. Kawthar said she feels like she’s finally safe and surrounded by warm, compassionate people. Even at such a young age, Kawthar expressed that she feels like she belongs to a community.

Her strong feelings of gratitude and acceptance truly shine through the poster that she made.

Iftar34

For us at United Way, we support people in crisis, and this was no different.

It’s clear how much of an impact we’re making when we meet kids like Kawthar. Everyone deserves to feel safe and at home, and when we host events to bring the community together and hear stories like hers, we can see how necessary our work is to make Peel feel like home for everyone.

But it’s not just our work – hosting Iftar events and funding agencies like Polycultural isn’t possible without the entire community’s support.

Consider this a call to action! We need you to give, or continue giving, to United Way so that we can hear and share even more success stories like Kawthar’s, and we can help even more newcomers feel at home in Brampton, Mississauga, and Caledon.

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Would you like to be a contributor to this blog? Reach out to tford@unitedwaypeel.org for more information.