1. We’re so happy to have you with us as a volunteer! Would you like to introduce yourself?
Hi, my name is Marwa Abboud, and I come from a family of immigrants myself.
I am Lebanese, born and raised in a country that was not my own, and moved to Canada about five years ago. I’m a volunteer with Together Project, and I hope I can convince you to do the same.
2. What inspired you to volunteer at Together Project?
My inspiration to volunteer with Together Project really came from two places: one, from my really good friend Ahmed, who is very near and dear to my heart, and another person who is very near and dear to my heart: my brother-in-law, who is also a refugee claimant. When moving to Canada, I was trying to help him figure out how to get support and, you know, it piqued my interest to figure out how I’m going to do this with the time that I had here in Canada. So yeah, I volunteered with Together Project, and little did I know, it was one of the best things to ever happen to me.
3. What did you do as a volunteer with us?
I started with Together Project as a translator. I speak English and Arabic. Moving to Canada myself, I found it quite difficult and challenging to get around— just acclimatize to certain things. So I can only imagine what it was like for immigrants and newcomers that didn’t speak the language. Also, I experienced it firsthand with some of my friends that moved here.
So, I tried to use some of my skill set to help people, newcomers as well as immigrants, to acclimatize— getting around, adjusting with some of the challenges they had, such as public transportation, or whether it came to understanding pretty complex language, like in the medical field, when people had to see doctors for medical attention. So that’s how I helped this particular family when I was joined with them at Together Project.
4. Do you have any highlights to share?
A highlight I’d love to share is one with the family that I was supporting. Just the amount of time you spend together, the emotions that you share with each other— my advice is to be proactive, to actually put yourself out there to try and help the family in ways that you wouldn’t otherwise push yourself to. And really, it’s so rewarding.
Six months down the line, little did I know, I would be invited to one of the family’s weddings. Just a wonderful celebration to be part of. I was introduced, actually, at the wedding, as being one of their closest family members. Although I wasn’t, but it was just really heartwarming to see that they felt that way, and I did, too. So yeah, my advice is to go out there and do your best to really make a difference in someone’s life.
5. Do you have any advice for potential volunteers?
My advice to potential volunteers is to be mindful, to be patient, to be empathetic, to really take the time to understand the people that you are dealing with— to understand that they are coming with a lot of heavy baggage, a lot of heavy emotions, that can be quite challenging. So remember to give, and remember to receive.
I’m grateful for Together Project for giving me this opportunity to share my skills, to share my emotions, to be able to get in touch with my inner self, and the empathetic side of me that really always wants to help someone, being an immigrant myself. So, thank you so much, you really don’t know, this is one of the most important things that’s ever happened to me in my life. One of the biggest shifts in my personal development as well. It’s one of the best things to ever happen to me.