UMOJA Operation Compassion Society of British Columbia, a not for profit aimed at assisting immigrants and refugees with integrating into society, last week hosted a fundraising dinner in Surrey. The fundraising dinner will see the organisation receive much needed funds to continue its work in the community.
Bruce Ralston, Minister for Jobs, Trade and Technology, key note speaker at the fundraising dinner, spoke about the issues that immigrants and refugees often face in British Columbia and how his ministry has positioned itself to assist with these challenges.
Ralston also noted: “As a proud Canadian, I am honoured to be in the company of the team at Umoja who are selflessly working to help others integrate into meaningful communities. Immigrants and refugees have a lot to add to industry in Canada and the better we work to make sure they are economically active and socially connected, the better and more productive our societies become.”
According to Statistics Canada, Surrey is currently home to over 500,000 immigrants who have called the city home for varying periods of time. Amos Kambere, Executive Director and President of Umoja, says he is focused on assisting the growing number of immigrants and refugees who enter the system by offering them the relevant resources where possible. He says: “Events like this fundraiser play a vital role in ensuring that our organisation is able to continue opening its doors every day. We want to be able to reach as many people as possible through our work in order to create a community of socially engaged individuals who can contribute to the communities in which they live.
“Life as a newcomer in a foreign country can be daunting and can become emotionally and socially crippling if the right support is not provided. This dynamic makes our work all the more important. We want to take these new families and individuals out of situations where they are lonely or struggling to make meaningful social connections while providing the whole family from children to youth to adults to seniors with the relevant skills and tools to do so.”
Umoja plays an integral role in Surrey’s immigrant and refugee community. One of Umoja’s priorities is to help in promoting unity among newcomer immigrants and refugees living in the area, while restoring a sense of dignity for those who have come from adverse conditions in their own countries. Different obstacles such a language, financial instability and isolation can cause integration to be particularly challenging. This makes the culturally sensitive programs that Umoja provides increasingly important for those who are able to access them.