Written by Ryan Charles Parker
The world needs rich people. Not rich in material wealth, but people who are rich in character and compassion. Those who have faced down challenges and overcome difficulties and use them constructively. People that can help. People that can help others learn how to help themselves. People like Siham Ahmed.
A refugee from Somalia, Siham knows what it is like to find hope in a new land. As a matter of fact, she was a client of the Central Alberta Refugee Effort (C.A.R.E.) before she volunteered for the organization. As she told me, “yes, I use C.A.R.E.’s services. I attend ESL courses. I accessed interpreter myself when I first came to Canada.”
Now she is paying it forward. Volunteer Program Coordinator at C.A.R.E., Elzbieta Sawicka said about Siham, “Siham is a dedicated volunteer with C.A.R.E.”
Especially adept at learning and teaching languages, her knowledge of the English language allows her to help in many areas of the Central Alberta Refugee Effort. She explained to me, “as a general volunteer, I help at the reception, answering the phone and referring clients to staff. As (an) interpreter, I help clients with limited or no English to communicate with others during their appointments.”
Sawicka echoed the value that Siham brings to the organization: “As she speaks several languages, she is a very vital part of our translation/interpretation support services.”
And, as previously mentioned, she is greatly appreciated at C.A.R.E.. As Sawicka says, “Siham is friendly and curious to learn new things. She is very motivated to learn new skills that will help her integrate into the Canadian society and find her future career. It’s a pleasure to have her around.”
What does Siham get out of volunteering at C.A.R.E.? “I volunteer because I can meet people, make friends from different cultures. It helps me also improve my language.”
It is this dual effort of learning and teaching that makes her such a special volunteer. And it is the reason why she is being awarded the Volunteer of the Month.