Growing up in a refugee settlement in the Ivory Coast of Africa, Bintou and Aicha Cherif didn’t have access to electricity or running water. They spent most of their days outdoors. When it came to meal preparation they cooked over an open fire.
When they first arrived in Canada in 2016, they didn’t know how to turn on a light switch, a stove or shower.
With the generous support of their sponsor family, Bintou and Aicha attend school and programs delivered by the New Canadians Centre – like the Food Handling Course and the SPARK Newcomer Photography Project. These projects help them share their stories and express themselves in meaningful ways, while building new skills that prepare them for future employment. Bintou and Aicha love to volunteer, especially at community dinners where they enjoy cooking and sharing with friends and community.
Today, Bintou and Aicha are chasing their dreams of being a lawyer and a doctor.
June 20 is recognized as World Refugee Day; a day that honours the strength and courage of refugees like Bintou and Aicha, and encourages public awareness and support of those who have had to flee their homelands because of conflict or natural disaster.
With people being made refugees daily, more help and awareness is constantly needed, to ensure that refugees are treated fairly and provided for, rather than being neglected or shunned.