Afghan, Ukrainian refugees in Winnipeg given handmade quilts as winter looms
Posted September 11, 2022 2:17 pm.
Last Updated September 11, 2022 2:18 pm.
As Afghan and Ukrainian refugees continue to settle in Winnipeg, a group of volunteers is making sure they’ll be staying warm this winter.
Members of the Excel Empowerment Centre came together this week to sew handmaid quilts to welcome the newcomers – and make sure they stay warm as the temperature begins to drop.
A former refugee herself, the group’s executive director Rebecca Deng came up with the idea when she heard that more than 300 Afghan refugees would be arriving in Winnipeg.
She says her experience settling in Canada has empowered her to give back to the community.
“It taught me how to take care of myself and take care of others,” said Deng.
So far 53 quilts have been given to members of the Afghan community. Another 47 were given to Ukrainian families.
“Winter’s coming. Winnipeg is really cold,” said Nunu Ajak, the centre finance administrator. “For you to feel cozy, you get something to warm you up. For us it’s a way of showing them that this is us holding you and we care.”
The Excel Empowerment Centre, a non-profit organization, offers services to help refugees from war-torn countries settle in Canada. They provide classes on financial literacy, basic computer skills and English lessons.
“Usually what we want to do is we want to connect people with the resources we have in the province,” added Ajak.
Next month the centre will be holding a fundraiser in the community in hopes of creating a mental-health program to help refugees coping with trauma.
The centre says the most important thing they can offer is a sense of community.
“Here what we tell people, (refugee) is just a status,” said Ajak. “It does not define who you are. We’re here to listen because we know what the experiences are.”
“Never feel lonely,” added Deng. “Always look for any help.”