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Meschac Sawasawa | Volunteer Feature

Meschac was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo & spent years moving around with his parents and sibling before fleeing DRC. After two years of hiding in Uganda, Meschac’s family was accepted as Government Assisted Refugees and came to Canada in the summer of 2013.

“If anything was bad, it was the winter. It was minus 5 degrees and I was so cold. Then someone said it goes to minus 40 degrees, and that was when I was really scared.”

Despite being only 17 years old at the time, Meschac was an experienced migrant and he was optimistic about all the possibilities Canada had to offer. The transition was hard. The food was very different and notably softer, and the neighbours were less friendly than expected. Meschac had been out of school for a few years & Canada has a completely different system, so high school was a big challenge. However, Meschac found the experience to be very enjoyable. He is grateful for the abundance of resources & support that were available to help him succeed.

“By serving, I was prospering. And it was fun.”

Less than two weeks after arriving at Calgary and moving into our Margaret Chisholm Resettlement Centre, Meschac’s counsellor noticed his impressive language skills and outgoing personality. He was then encouraged to sign up as a volunteer. As someone who likes to help all people, Meschac agreed right away. To his surprise, volunteering became a great way for him to practice English & build a network of friends.

“There is usually a bond, and I really enjoy the people side of things. It’s not just a one time job, clients come back and ask questions later.”

Some of Meschac’s most memorable experiences in Canada were the friendships he made with the people he helped. He fully embraced the concept of service, which he continued to practice after graduation through a one year mission to Eastern Canada.

“It helps with everything, including finding work, because someone will hire you when they see that you volunteered.”

Meschac advises newcomers to volunteer because volunteering opens doors to opportunities. It’s a great way to get to know places and people. Volunteering can also help newcomers to get out of their comfort zones and embrace the new culture a lot faster.

“People don’t talk to you like back home, it’s like all business. Neighbours look at you like you did something wrong to them.”

One of the biggest shocks Meschac faced in Canada is the lack of connections. Growing up in a culture where he was always surrounded by friends, neighbours, and families. Meschac knows how easy it would to become anxious, especially if he did not have his church. Meschac's 2020 vision is for CCIS to become a seasonal gathering place for immigrants and refugees, so they can meet people in the same situation to learn from each other and figure out what to do.

Thank you for volunteering, Meschac!



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