Offering a warm welcome during a tumultuous time2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
Around the Region showcases the work of community partners. This month we highlight Reception House Waterloo Region, which is playing an important part in resettling refugees from Afghanistan to the community.
Written by: Helen Loftin, Reception House
Harrowing images filled our screens of scenes at Kabul airport as desperate Afghan citizens sought to leave their country in the wake of a Taliban takeover. Hundreds of Afghans who had worked for Canada during our participation in the global effort to assist that country, were able to get out and many have arrived in Canada since the beginning of August. Delivering the local Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP), Reception House Waterloo Region is receiving many of the recent refugees. So far, we welcomed more than 100 newcomer friends from this Afghan initiative.
Because of the sheer number of recent arrivals, and because of current COVID-19 protocols for both the Afghan cohort as well as the refugees from other parts of our world, those ‘doors’ through which refugee clients begin their resettlement in our community are temporarily the front door of local hotels. Reception House is experiencing a surge in arrivals, both Afghan and those from other areas.
There are several ways that Reception House assists a refugee arrival: greeting them at the airport, arranging an initial medical check-up, orientation to life in Waterloo Region such as banking, groceries, public transit and English language training.
The Region of Waterloo supports Reception House by helping to find housing, healthcare providers and advocates for newcomers in our region when they arrive. Further orientation efforts are underway with newcomer families on the basics of digital tools to help them access services and to better communicate during these times of social distancing and remote service offerings.
Reception House also seeks to smooth out their social integration into life in Waterloo Region by matching volunteer families with client families as a sort of ‘buddying up’ effort; by enlisting volunteers to assist children and teens with school work via our Homework Club; and to help clients practice their English via casual chats. There are many ways that our generous Waterloo Region community can help: via volunteering, through donations of cash; and through being welcoming and kind to any and all newcomers who arrive to our region. Learn more about ways you can help.
Though the future is yet to be written for these newest neighbours of ours, they begin a new life in our community with gratitude, ambition and a wealth of goodwill. Our community is enriched with them in it; and they too benefit as they become part of our kind and generous Waterloo Region community.