When YMCA participant and volunteer Mohammad Farid arrived in Canada in 2005 as a refugee from Afghanistan, he knew he would have some work to do to adjust to life in his new country. “When I immigrated to Canada, I had no English. Learning English was a big challenge.”

Farid, who grew up in Kabul, had to escape from his war-torn home country, which was becoming increasingly dangerous and violent. When he arrived in Vancouver he enrolled in a local Community College to learn English where a friend told him about the YMCA Connections Program, which provides a number of programs and services to help newcomers adjust to life in Canada. He joined the program to participate in the English language conversation club and social and educational events. “Being involved with the YMCA helped a lot and after a while I could keep conversations, also I met immigrants from different countries that spoke different languages,” says Farid. He found such value and community in the program that he decided he wanted to do something to give back. Farid became a volunteer for the social and educational events, a position he really enjoys.

Farid loves Vancouver, a city he now considers home. “It's a green city,” he says, and adds that the ocean and fresh air are two of his favourite things about living here.  

The YMCA will be playing our part in helping refugees adjust to life in Canada in the coming months.  Working with our community partners who specialize in refugee settlement, newcomers will receive referrals to the YMCA’s health and fitness programming to help them stay healthy as they transition to life in Canada. Thanks to the YMCA’s generous donors, nobody is turned away from a YMCA program due to an inability to pay.