For Mental Health Week, we’re featuring Welcome Group volunteer, Joyce Edem!
Not only is Joyce remarkable for her commitment to helping newcomers both in her volunteer work and her career, but she has also involved her two daughters with her Welcome Group!
With her fluency in over 7 languages and 3 dialects, Joyce loves connecting with newcomers as they settle into their new Canadian lives.
As a paralegal, immigration professional, language services provider, and community development consultant, Joyce has found that her work has helped her gain valuable insight into the challenges newcomers face.
“For refugees, fleeing and settling in a new country can be daunting,” she said. “Having community support and access to resources helps enhance one’s mental health and well-being.”
Joyce says that being part of a Welcome Group has provided her with the opportunity to share resources to support refugees.
“I’ve seen it have a huge positive impact on their mental health,” she said.
This is why she involved her daughters in her volunteer journey with Together Project.
“Knowing how important those resources are to newcomers, and especially refugees, my daughters Jijo Quayson and Abie Quayson chose to volunteer with Together Project,” she said.
“It encompasses all. We wanted to make a positive difference.”
After completing her studies at the University of Ghana, Joyce moved to England. After working at the University of Cambridge, she transitioned into social work.
Her community service journey began as a volunteer cultural and language interpreter at an immigration holding detention centre in Oxford.
After coming to Toronto, Joyce worked in community development in St. Jamestown, Cabbagetown, and the surrounding neighbourhoods, with Multicultural Seniors’ Groups, and Nepalese, Tamil, South Asian, and Filipino associations.
Joyce’s drive to help newcomers has also inspired her to become an entrepreneur.
She has founded a language social enterprise, Edem Languages, where she provides language and cultural services to government agencies and refugees.
She uses her fluency in many West African languages and dialects to help in immigration, healthcare, the court systems, and more.
As an aspiring author, Joyce is currently writing her first book, which she hopes to release by this summer.
“Sharing stories and running storytelling workshops is an important piece of work that enhances mental well-being,” she said.
“I use storytelling as a means of generating conversations on topics that participants find useful. We explore coping strategies that participants can use as tools to enhance their life conditions.”
Together, Joyce and her daughters have volunteered in three matches. They have helped with language learning, employment, education, resource sharing, and more. She was especially proud when her daughter, Jijo, was able to create a resume with a newcomer refugee.
Joyce says that her highlights have been seeing refugees’ lives change for the better: a baby being born, an abuse survivor finding a safe place to live, and a refugee gaining permanent resident status after their refugee hearing.