What's New? November 2015
In this issue: *A two-year review *26 Tibetans welcomed since June! *Rent appeal extended *A Canadian tradition adopted *Introducing our new Employment Lead *Need a house or office cleaner? *Ottawa Friends of Tibet Benefit Dinner *Ottawa Tibet Film Festival 2016
A two-year review
It has been two years since we welcomed the first Tibetans at the Ottawa airport on a bitter November night. It seems a good time to look at what we have accomplished and to look at what is in store for our final year of the project. Here are some highlights of what can only be considered a remarkable success, one due in equal parts to the Tibetans who have done everything possible to become quickly self-supporting, to our dedicated team of volunteers, and the generosity of many donors.
- As of mid-November 2015, 62 Tibetans have arrived in Canada. Eight of them have moved to other cities for work, leaving 44 adults and 10 children resident in Ottawa. Their integration into the local Tibetan community is well underway – they have together formed the Ottawa Tibetan Community Association to promote Tibetan language and culture and are involved with the Ottawa Tibetan Film Festival, which is planning its fourth season.
- Remarkably, all the adults except the mothers of infants are working and self-sufficient. Some jobs are full-time, while others are only part-time or on-call (with uncertain hours). Many are in the service industry or with small manufacturing companies.
- Since mid-2013, the project has collected over $100,000, which is being used to pay its expenses. It is noteworthy that the earlier arrivals have made significant donations to the project. The project has also collected a large quantity of in-kind donations, and benefitted from a large amount of free housing.
- For the first half of the newcomers, the average amount of money needed per person was under $1,000. This is expected to double for the second half, mainly due to the need to pay rent on apartments. Even so, our cost is well below that normally associated with private sponsorships. The generosity of the local Ottawa community has been instrumental in keeping our costs down. In addition to financial donations, apartments have been fully furnished, dozens of new beds donated, new and used winter clothing given, and storage and transportation provided.
- We owe special thanks to many organizations and individuals in Ottawa. For example, see Rachel Slater of Mountain Equipment Co-op in the photo, presenting a collection of children's used snowsuits to TRPO. This is the third year MEC has donated winter outwear to our program. A big thanks to this caring company!
- New arrivals have been provided with free housing for up to three months, during which time they get a small allowance for living expenses and help to get work. After that, the term can be lengthened if they need ESL courses before getting a job. The supply of free housing through Canadian and Tibetan hosts has now been largely exhausted, so funds are now going into renting apartments, particularly for families with children.
- A shout-out is also due to our hard-working mentors, especially the ones working with the newcomer families.
- The 34 Tibetans still to come are to arrive by May 11, 2016, for a full total of 96 Ottawa sponsorships. Successfully managing the final third of the project will be a challenge because Syrian refugees will soon arrive in Ottawa in numbers, putting a strain on both settlement services and finding jobs.
Since our last newsletter we have welcomed 26 people to Ottawa, among them an infant, a husband and two sons who were reunited with a wife and daughter, and a family of six. In September we warmly welcomed our 60th Tibetan (see her in the middle front). We are all proud that we have reached the two-thirds mark in our project!
Rent appeal extended
We are about half way to our goal of $15,600 and have extended this special appeal into December, the season of giving. Our need to rent apartments for three months to accommodate the larger numbers of Tibetans recently received and expected in the coming months will require the extra moneys. If you can help, a tax-deductible receipt is waiting for you from our partner, the Catholic Centre for Immigrants Foundation. See Special Appeal for details.
On Hallowe’en night the young ones donned Tibetan and other costumes to take part in the annual fall ritual of trick or treating. Here is a group getting ready to go out from Ellen Wiesenfeld's house:
Introducing our new Employment Lead
Sarah Hafez has enthusiastically taken on the employment portfolio, replacing Sylvie Plante, who is doing a PhD at Royal Roads U. with research on immigrant entrepreneurship.
Sarah has begun meeting with Tibetans to determine their skill sets and current situations. So far, she has identified willing cleaners, chefs, sous chefs, line cooks, dishwashers, beauticians and massage therapists. Any leads to potential employers of these skills would be very welcome. She is also compiling a summary of available employment services in the city that will help prepare individualized job search plans. The other critical need is, of course, language training services. Again, any leads to job placement services and language training would be much appreciated.
Sarah earned a psychology degree from Carleton University and has experience as an employment counsellor and education advocate, and in providing job placement services and finding employment for candidates in both the public and private sector. “This is where I developed the most important skill I needed for success, the ability to listen!” says Sarah. An Ottawa native, in her spare time Sarah enjoys dance, aerobics and the outdoors, but most of her free time is focused on her family and young daughter.
We are delighted to welcome Sarah to the TRPO board. She will be joined by Tracey Filby, also a professional recruiter, whom we will introduce properly in our next newsletter.
Entrepreneurial Dawa Norbu has started an eco-friendly home and office cleaning business that complements his dry cleaning depot featured in our July newsletter. You might want to take up the offer of a 20% discount on your first cleaning.
OFT held their 19th annual fundraising dinner on October 30th, and once again made a substantial contribution to the Tibetan Resettlement Project. Here is Jurme Wangda, OFT President, presenting the donation to Cornelius and his wife Edwinna who accepted on behalf of all TRPO volunteers.
Newcomers Tenzin Tsundu (left) and Tenzin Yangkey perform a traditional Tibetan dance at the dinner.
The Ottawa Tibet Film Festival 2016 - Save the date!
The fourth annual festival will be held on Sunday, March 20, 2016 at the Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank Street. The full program will be issued in January -- see the website at http://ottawatibetfilmfestival.com/, and the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/OttawaTibetFlimFestival/?fref=ts.Get more information here on what the Tibetans need right now. Consider joining our team of volunteers. And many, many thanks to you all! E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org