The ACII Alumni Spotlight Series features original pieces by participants from Round 1 of our Afghan Community Impact Incubator (ACII) reflecting on their community service projects and lessons learned.
By Ramiz Bakhtiar, ACII Round 1 ChangeMaker, on behalf of The Hope Project
As a young newcomer in Canada, I’ve been told that finding a job is mostly about “Who you know”. I’ve been told that “Here, you need to forget about what you were doing back home”. This is probably the most common story amongst young newcomers in Canada, mainly young refugees. In particular, those who have come from developing countries face a myriad of challenges to find employment opportunities that are relevant to their background and passion. Young people come to Canada with dreams and a hope for a better future, but a majority of them tend to forfeit their dreams and hopes because the transition period to settling in Canada, finding a job, making friends, and building social influence is tough. I work with young refugees, mainly with those who have come from Afghanistan, to identify opportunities for civic engagement, volunteerism, employment, and community engagement, because building a stronger community without a civically active, economically well, and socially engaged members is not practical.
Earlier this year, I launched “The Hope Project”, an initiative that aims to support newcomers, mainly young refugees in Canada to strengthen their networking potential, identify opportunities, and contribute to building a better, stronger, and more inclusive Canada. I believe that the journey to successful integration in Canada, and anywhere else, for refugees is a grueling one, but there is a real chance in front of us to change this and make a difference. The Hope Project is aiming right at that.
In the month of February 2021, we concluded the first round of The Hope Project’s networking and socializing event with the generous support of #RisingYouth Canada, TakingITGlobal, and AYEDI’s Afghan-focused Community Impact Incubator (ACII) program that provides Afghan youth-led initiatives with financial and advisory support to implement community service projects across Canada. The first networking and socializing event included personal stories of successfully integrated refugees, an open conversation among the participants, and a training presentation highlighting networking tips and techniques. The ACII community service projects have sparked a ray of hope for the project leaders and participants because of the support and advice that they receive from AYEDI and #RisingYouth Canada.
I believe that there is a pressing need for more work to support young refugees in Canada to successfully integrate in Canadian society, and contribute to building a meaningfully inclusive and more resilient Canada. Young refugees are equipped with diverse expertise and experience. Their knowledge and energy is essential to building a better Canada, yet this energy and potential have not been adequately explored.
Views expressed solely represent the opinions of the writer.