At the Y, doing their homework, together

YMCA of Greater Halifax/Dartmouth



At a YMCA homework club run by the YMCA Centre for Immigrant Programs in Halifax, Youth Outreach Co-ordinator Fadi Hamdan helps new Canadian students, saying, “This is like a little bit of home now for them.”

Hamdan, who came to Canada eight years ago from Jordan, calls the youth an inspiration.

“Some of these youth have been here for two months and they didn’t speak a word of English. Now they can handle a small conversation,” he said in a recent interview.

Ali Al-Hallaq, a 16-year-old who immigrated from Syria two years ago says he found support at the YMCA and in its homework club. He plans to volunteer with the Y this summer to help young Syrian refugees feel welcome.

“No matter who you are, no matter where you’re from or what race you are when you come here, you are a human,” Al-Hallaq said in a recent interview. “You meet other humans from other countries, from other races, from other religions. It’s a great opportunity for the refugees when they come here.”

“I was a refugee and I had no future,” he adds. “I used to live in a refugee camp; I’ve been to three refugee camps. I know how they feel now. I know how they will feel when they come to Canada. They will feel safe. It’s a great feeling to be in Canada and feel like home.”