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Volunteers help newcomer families with English

September 9, 2016   ·   0 Comments

By Marni Walsh


Area volunteers spent some of their free time this summer helping new Canadians in Shelburne with the challenging task of learning English.

Reverend Candice Bist, Kim Gammage and Lynda Lenny, all residents of Dufferin County, offered English as a second language (ESL) out of Trinity United Church.

The efforts of volunteers, independent sponsorship groups, and support of churches and the community has helped newly arrived families from Syria to make the transition quickly, adapt to the language, and navigate a variety of new social systems and institutions.

Mohammed and Rana Aldiri are parents to seven children between the ages of five and twelve years old, now living in Shelburne, where they arrived out of war torn Syria in the spring.

Despite very limited English, the children began attending Hyland Heights Elementary School soon after their arrival in Canada.

Lynda Lenny and Kim Gammage, both retired teachers from Orangeville, said they were happy to volunteer their time “to help the Syrian families adjust to living in Canada and speaking English.”

The lessons at Trinity ran from June to August as an addition to other ESL instruction the family has received in Alliston.

Four of the youngest Aldiri children enjoyed (ESL) summer camp in Orangeville this summer as well. They were also treated to swimming lessons by university students and Shelburne native Melissa Matthews, who taught them at the home of Reverend Bist.

Ruth Cruikshank, who has been an avid volunteer for the new families, helped with the children during lessons at Trinity.

She says other Trinity Church members, like Mary Hawthorne have been helping by taking the children to the Library. Shelburne artist and musician Sohayla Smith, along with fellow Troupe-Adore member Josh Oatman, dropped by Trinity to surprise the children with balloons and face painting at the end of lessons last week.

ESL will begin daily in Alliston this month, and both Mohammed and Rana Aldiri have already completed the workshop for resumes and passed the WHMIS course there, reports Karin Klouman of First Line for Syria.

Her group continues to provide guidance and support to the Aldiri family, which is government sponsored.

First Line’s own sponsored family, Khaleel and Sabah Hussein-Aloosh have also passed the WHMIS course and “their English is improving daily,” says Karin.

Their seventeen year old daughter Helin has conquered English in an amazingly short time and is moving on to French while achieving impressive marks at Centre Dufferin District High School.

This summer, First Line for Syria took the Hussein-Aloosh family to various tourist attractions.

“We spent a day at Niagara Falls, another day at the CN tower and also a day at Canada’s Wonderland,” said Karin. “We feel it is important to not only take our family to doctors and dental appointments, but also include them in social and fun activities – so that they see what Canada has to offer.”



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