Newcomers helping newcomers: Canada's 1st Syrian community centre opens its doors
'People need help, so giving it to them with a smile gives them hope,' says young volunteer
When Ghaiyath and Nagham Alsouki first arrived in Canada, they had no idea that in less than a year's time, they would be extending their hands to help even newer newcomers.
But in the span of just months, the two started helping out with the group Syrian Active Volunteers Canada, a non-governmental organization aimed at resettling refugees. And now, they're among those opening the doors of what's being dubbed Canada's first Syrian community centre, in Mississauga, Ont.
"[When] I came here, I didn't know much," Gaiyath Alsouki told CBC Toronto. But despite being new to Canada, he says volunteering is his way of paying it forward.
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"People need help, so giving it to them with a smile gives them hope," he said.
The centre will focus on learning English, providing help to find work and gaining vital computer skills.
"It's important with this new age with technology," Alsouki said. "You probably won't get a job if you don't know how to use a computer."
Sam Jisri, executive director of SAV Canada, says opening a centre like this one has been a "dream" of his for a long time.
And while it may be called the Syrian Community Centre, Jisri says it's open to newcomers from all backgrounds. Already, it's been helping those from Ethiopian, Somali, Egyptian and Palestinian backgrounds.
"Some of them might be the next prime minister. You don't know."