In the advent of Covid-19, sustaining our social connections with all of our family and friends and creating new connections have been tremendously hard for all of us. It has been especially hard for those who are newcomers to our communities. The newcomers are not only eager to settle successfully but also are desperate to form new social connections in their communities. The Covid-19 pandemic has almost wiped out casual ways of forming new connections and acquiring new information or getting much-needed help that is vital for a successful beginning. One can easily imagine a situation before Covid-19 where the only acquaintance of a newcomer invites them to a dinner party at their home. This creates an opportunity for the newcomer not only to meet many others, possibly starting friendships with at least a few but also to learn the name of a family physician or to get tips on the best places to do grocery shopping…
In my project, I tried to replicate these old ‘casual ways’ as much as possible using virtual techniques. I have graciously volunteered my time to help newcomers in the past and continued to do so during this grant. I identified 2 newcomer families from Coquitlam by doing research on social media Turkish groups. I met with them through Zoom first. After that, I was available anytime they had questions on anything from renting a place/buying furniture to how to look for a job. We communicated via phone, email and Zoom and continue to do so. In addition, I introduced the families to each other with a zoom meeting to share their experiences.
While helping the newcomers, there had been rare situations in the past where I had to tap into my own pockets. However, I never had the financial means in the past to prepare, for example, something like a welcome package covering COVID-essentials. This grant was crucial in giving me the opportunity to prepare a better welcome for these newcomers in these hard times. The welcome package I prepared included hand sanitizers, masks and some cleaning/disinfectant products to help them to fight Covid19 in their daily lives. While talking to them, I found out their favourite grocery store and purchased gift cards from these grocery stores so that they can buy basic groceries and supplies to make them feel welcome.
Immigration and moving out from a country to another is a challenging process, and Covid19 makes it even harder. Settling up in a new country takes a lot of time and effort, and not every family is lucky to have the right support for this adaptation process. The excitement feeling is soon replaced with loneliness. This process can be even more challenging for children. Immigration is not easy, but it always brings more opportunities after the adaptation. I am very excited to help to make the adaptation of these families a little less challenging. I hope that they will love their new home country Canada with its diversity, colourfulness and helpful attitude of the community and very happy to be a part of it.