I’m a volunteer with Together Project, an immigrant, a good friend of Ahmed “Tiko” who introduced me to this amazing platform. I was born and raised in Lebanon, a beautiful country by the Mediterranean. I moved out to seek better economic opportunities in nearby Gulf countries when I was 25 years old, and at that time, I had the dream to belong, to be where I would fit in with other people, and be truly and fully myself, and this is why Canada was always on my radar. I decided to take the leap one day, and here I am.
I was given a chance here to help with this beautiful passage of families who are resettled here or settled here and starting their new journey. I restarted my life years back. It’s still an exhilarating adventure, and I’m happy to be with others on their adventure. Together, we can make it.
The journey doesn’t start for everyone in this new country as a child or a teenager. For some it starts at a much later age, and this was my journey. I was in my late 30s when I started my life here as a new immigrant.
So I’d say many of the refugees and migrants, they’re starting life in their late 20s or even 30s and this is something I felt like could really help with here because it’s similar to my journey, where I didn’t come here as a teenager or as a child. I had to restart life here, and that, by itself, can feel like a monumental task. But I wanted to encourage others to have fun with it, see it as an opportunity to create who you are, because this is the opportunity that’s given to us here.
So the highlight for my first family match was to be the mentor of an immigrant who was in his early 30s and also having that difficulty of the perception of ‘I’m starting my life again at this age where my siblings are much younger than me, and they might have a better chance to integrate and succeed.’
And this mindset, by itself, is something that I’ve had the interesting challenge to work on with this mentee. It was amazing to see how this bloomed eventually, for this person to see it’s more of an adventure where you can reinvent yourself rather than see it as ‘It’s too late for me now, what am I doing here?’ which is something that many people might think or feel.
I think about him now and I hope that he’s still on his journey and we still connect with the volunteer family from time to time. That’s another thing about Together Project – it’s a connection that can thrive and I’m grateful for that.
Dear future volunteer of Together Project: my advice to you is to do it from your heart. Go in expecting a wonderful journey with people who are there for you to hold space, to listen to, and to guide as much as you can with words or with resources that are plenty with Together Project and with the Together Project family.
It’s not a job, it’s not something that you have to feel committed to in that sense, but it’s a commitment to a fellow human, to help them on their journey, to be there for them, to hold space, to imagine what you would have wanted as a newcomer.
Be that person for this newcomer, for the mentee you’ll be mentoring. There’s ample resources with Together Project like Jennilee, Anna, and my favourite, “Tiko”, who introduced me to this journey. And best of luck!