Imagine leaving your war-torn homeland with the clothes on your back and arriving in a foreign land where you don’t speak the language. Add poverty, extremely low levels of literacy, unemployment, isolation, mental health issues, trauma and hopelessness to that mix and that is where Umoja Operation Compassion Society steps in.
A $20,000 grant from the Envision Financial Community Endowment Fund assists Umoja in offering programming to minority immigrants and refugees from all around the world. Citizens from Egypt, Somalia, Burma, Uganda, Botswana, Yemen and Russia, to name a few, seek new opportunities and a new life here in Canada.
Umoja Operation Compassion Society is a Surrey-based charity providing a welcoming, culturally sensitive environment offering literacy programs and key life skills to immigrants and refugees. Many of these newcomers find it particularly difficult to assimilate after living in refugee camps. Through Umoja Family Services, Umoja continues to empower new families equipping them with literacy and life skills classes, computer and internet training, parenting skills and a six week community kitchen course. All services are designed to assist with the transition into Canadian culture.
“Umoja is often seen as approachable and easy to access,” explains Program Manager, Jamie Kopp. “Larger mainstream organizations can be intimidating and overwhelming for families first arriving in Canada,” he adds. “We work to equip newcomers with English language skills while educating them about the community and how to access other services for themselves and their children.”
Established in 2002, Umoja Operation Compassion Society strives to promote unity, respect and dignity while empowering newcomers to thrive and contribute to their communities.
“We are pleased to support such a worthwhile charity,” explains Seline Kutan, Executive Director of the First West Foundation. “Umoja Operation Compassion Society delivers programming that welcomes and enriches the lives of immigrants to Canada,” adds Kutan. “In turn, this helps create healthier children and families and enriches our communities in so many positive ways.”