Life changed for 24-year-old Khidir Bkdach when he started volunteering at the New Canadians Centre.
“One day, Khidir walked into my office and told me he wanted to improve his English. I believed the best way for Khidir to not only develop his English but start to feel connected to the community that was now his home, was to employ his skills as an interpreter. He started volunteering his time – for doctor’s appointments and training sessions. When a client came to the NCC with a problem, Khidir was there to help,” explains NCC Refugee Resettlement Coordinator, Jack Gillan.
“One day, Jack called me and said there was an emergency and I had to go to the hospital with him,” Khidir remembers. A new family was arriving from Syria and they were in need of urgent medical attention. “Khidir was right there with the doctor in the emergency room explaining everything,” Jack says. Not long after, Khidir, who grew up and attended school in Homs before the war broke out, started working at the NCC as a summer student. “I couldn’t finish school because of the war. I studied at home and I watched movies to keep learning English.” His favourite? “The Godfather,” he says with a smile. “I identify with this family because they had to work so hard. They wanted so much to belong in their new country.”
Today, Khidir is busy attending Fleming College in the Business Administration program.
“I want to be an accountant. And then I hope to get a job and continue building my life in Peterborough. I never came here to take anyone’s job or their home. I came here to help. Canada is a great country. And I want to make it even better.”