ABOUT AWO REFUGEE AND IMMIGRANT SERVICES
The AWO provides settlement services to all newcomers, with a special focus on women, their families, refugees and people who have experienced war and persecution. The AWO has welcomed newcomers from around the world, including Central Asia, the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa, assisting them in the first stages of their settlement process. These first steps taken by newcomers, finding a home, work, learning English, and finding out about Canada’s legal system and health care are all crucial to ensuring that each newcomer has a foundation for building a healthy life in Canada.
To meet the ever-changing needs of newcomers our programming includes a range of activities that have resulted in more women and their families having access to and interactions with their network of peers and an increased involvement in their communities.
Our staff and volunteers go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that isolated women and seniors are able to participate in programming, including English classes and events in the community. All members of the newcomer community must feel included and welcome. Our programming helps newcomers learn about the Canadian systems and laws, health care, safety and includes supervised field trips and recreational activities. We are also very pleased to be able to provide programming to newcomer youth and children. From the homework club to environmental projects to programming that connects youth with seniors, our goal is to support newcomers in living healthy, productive lives.
The AWO grew out of humble beginnings. Initially, the organization was entirely volunteer-run by its founder, Adeena Niaizi, and a handful of refugee women from Afghanistan. These like-minded women from the Afghan committee came together to form a committee to help other Afghan women refugees. They started off in a small office without furniture. Fahima Fatah was AWO’s first official staff member working with a second-hand typewriter at a small desk. Out of that tiny office, hearts and minds came together to assist more and more Afghan women and their families.
The AWO has always been like a family and our clients are at the heart of this extended family. As our warm and welcoming organization grew, our client base began to become more diverse. Our efforts to achieve our mission to improve newcomers’ and refugees’ quality of life, to help them live in dignity and reach their full potential while promoting their social and economic inclusion, have enabled us to serve over 19,000 clients who have experienced war and violence from Afghanistan, Iran, other countries in Central Asia, the Middle East, South and East Asia, Africa and Europe.