Issue 19 | June 2022
Dear friends and supporters,

As we shift into summer and welcome the warm temperatures, we're pleased to provide you with an update of what's going on at Reception House right now.
In Conversation with our new CEO - Babur Mawladin
Babur Mawladin joined Reception House as our new Chief Executive Officer in April. We sat down with him to learn more about his background, experience, and vision for the future, and discovered that his own experience as a refugee is a key driver of his passion to serve. 

How are you settling into the new role as CEO? 
BM: I’m enjoying working with Reception House and settling into the new role well. Over the past two months since I joined Reception House as CEO, I have met with the board, staff, funders, partners, and the people we serve to deepen my understanding of the programs and services that Reception House provides, and the role that we play in the settlement ecosystem of Waterloo Region. I have been impressed by the work of the organization and the commitment of the team at Reception House.  
Pictured: Babur Mawladin, CEO of Reception House Waterloo Region
What motivated you to join Reception House?  
BM: As a child, my family was forced to flee Afghanistan due to a Russian invasion. We made our way to Pakistan in the hopes of being sponsored by relatives to live in the US. However, this did not work out and two years later we had to move again; this time to a refugee camp in Iran. Life was more difficult in Iran, but my father could teach and that allowed us to continue our schooling. When Russia pulled out of Afghanistan, we returned home and for a while life went back to normal. I was one year away from gaining my medical degree when the civil war broke out and we were once again forced to flee; this time to Tajikistan.  

My own refugee experience motivated me to help others. When we returned to Afghanistan, I helped build a school in my hometown, and when we fled to Tajikistan, I founded several English Language and Computer Training Centres to provide access to education and skills development for other refugee students. During this time, I also supported other young refugees by helping them write their immigration applications, and soon came to the decision to apply myself. My intention when I came to Canada was to continue my education and become a doctor. However, that pathway presented many barriers and so, inspired by the experiences that I had as a refugee to support others in similar situations, I embarked on studies and a career in the social services instead and that ultimately led me to Reception House.

What is your philosophy or approach to serving refugees at Reception House?  
Forced migration is earmarked by loss – the loss of family, country, social networks, social status, friends, and home. When refugees arrive in Canada, they are grieving all these losses. Each person’s journey is unique, so every pathway needs to be unique. With so much uncertainty in their lives, we need to be present with people and listen deeply to their experiences and hopes for the future so that we can best support each person's unique journey to making this community home. 

What’s next? What’s your focus for the next two months?  
As I continue to settle into the role, my focus is on service and sustainability – ensuring that the people we serve are supported throughout their settlement journey and ensuring that the organization has the ongoing capacity to provide these essential supports. I also look forward to meeting many of our volunteers, donors, and engaged citizens whose varied contributions help create a community of support for our newest neighbours.
World Refugee Day

UNHCR's Tagline - Whoever. Wherever. Whenever. Everyone has the right to seek safety. 
As we approach World Refugee Day, this year’s UNHCR Tagline reminds us of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular Articles 13 – 15: 
Article 13 
Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. 
Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. 
Article 14 
Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. 
This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. 
Article 15 
Everyone has the right to a nationality. 
No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality. 

It’s been 74 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted, and still many countries around the world have not adhered to these principles. Last month UNHCR announced an unfortunate milestone – 100 million people had been displaced worldwide due to persecution, conflict, natural disasters, and climate change. This staggering figure, which includes refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people is equivalent to 1% of the entire world’s population. Over two thirds of refugees around the world are from only five (5) countries: Syrian Arab Republic, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Myanmar, and between January and the end of May 2022 Reception House welcomed 188 people to Waterloo Region from many of these countries. 
Organizational Update
Between January and May 2022, we welcomed 188 newcomers from around the world, including:
  • Syria
  • Afghanistan
  • Eritrea
  • Iraq
  • Somalia
  • Turkey
  • Congo DRC
  • Myanmar
  • Iran
  • Burundi
  • Sudan
Join us on Monday, June 20 at The Museum for World Refugee Day Event and Awards. Doors open at 6:30, enjoy the sounds of Juneyt, view art by refugee youth, listen to presentations of drama and song by Crossing Borders, and be inspired by World Refugee Day award winners.
Join the World Refugee Day Walk on Saturday, June 25 at 1PM starting at Speakers Corners.
Come and join us at the Multicultural Festival on Saturday, June 25 and Sunday, June 26 in Victoria Park. To learn more visit KW Multicultural Festival.
Join us at Ride for Refuge
We are kicking off our Ride for Refuge Campaign. On October 1, we’ll be walking and cycling around Waterloo Region, raising money for children and youth programs. If you’d like to join us, register a team or donate, visit
Strengthening Community Bonds Between Youth – a success story
Over the last 3 years Reception House and Community Justice Initiatives have partnered to deliver an innovative program that integrates newcomer and Canadian youth aged 12-25 years old. New Canadian Youth Connections (NCYC), funded by an Ontario Trillium Foundation Grow Grant, creates community and support networks between refugee and Canadian youth through activities like a homework club, art classes, and social gatherings. Over 90 youth have participated in the program since it began in 2019.  
NCYC activities include the Homework club, bowling, skating, sports, exploring the region on foot, navigating the GRT, visiting the library and cooking classes. Other fun activities include Art with Pamela. Using different mediums like pens, water colour and acrylic paint, recycled paper, wood, cardboard, reusable bags and ornaments, NCYC youth explore these mediums and explore their creativity. 

We see firsthand how passionate youth who arrive in Canada want to integrate and make friends and build community. 

Pictured: Some of the Youth of NCYC
Pictured: Some of the Youth at KPL
While our funding has ended for this program, we are fundraising to continue to provide the NCYC program as we have seen incredible community building results between newcomer and Canadian youth and wish to continue to foster opportunities like this program that build connections and communities. 
Digital Engagement Project Evaluation Report
As we wrap-up the #digitalengagementproject pilot, we are pleased to hear feedback from program participants and volunteers. Without internet and literacy basics, it can be impossible to navigate a new community, where most information is online. Having the skills and knowledge to navigate the digital world is a “game-changer”. 

We are grateful to the Lyle.S Hallman Foundation, our advisory committee and tech buddy volunteers for empowering those we serve, to find their way in an increasingly digital world. 
Did you hear we're hiring?
Check out the positions we are hiring for, including 2 Housing Navigator roles.
Thank you to Glennis & Mark Yantzi and Group from 508 Lancaster East for your generous donation of hygiene items!
Thank you to St George's Anglican Church in New Hamburg for your generous gift of Sobeys gift cards.
Thank you to Laurel Heights Secondary School for organizing a fundraising event and donating hygiene and school supplies. Thank you!

Pictured is Mrs. Melanie Sword, English and Jr. Girls’ Basketball Coach who helped organize and drop off the hygiene and school supplies.
Thank you to H2R Business Solutions Inc. and team for donating hygiene supplies!

Pictured is Patricia Polischuk, Head of Client Engagement. Thank you for your support!

Thank you to Royal Homes - Royal Homes supported First Canadian Home Kits are being delivered to families settling into their new homes. Here are two such kits and some quotes from the families who have received a First Canadian Home Kit.
“We just received this gift in very right time, and we are very happy that we got it. Thank you very much Royal Homes for your generous gift”
-Aldabea Family
"Thank you so much for these items donated to us. It now feels that we are on a journey of starting a new home, especially for me in my kitchen."
-Temmo Family
Reception House Waterloo Region | 519-743-0445 |
We wish you a safe, healthy and happy Summer!