Ahmed Ibrahim has lived in Canada since 2005. He resettled from Ethiopia as a result of political unrest. Education, hard work, and giving back are things Ahmed values deeply. After pursuing higher education, Ahmed began working in the oilfields of Northern Alberta, and in his spare time he would help a friend’s child with schoolwork. In doing this, Ahmed soon came to realize that many of the families he knew were newcomers to Canada with minimal education and limited English. They were not positioned to help their children with schoolwork. Many of these families lacked the resources to seek external support. Knowing the importance of education and having lived through the challenges, fears, and uncertainty that comes with displacement and resettlement, Ahmed saw the great disadvantage that children and youth of newcomer families face in reaching their full potential to one day become strong contributors to society. Ahmed felt called to do something to address this issue.
At first, Ahmed expanded his tutoring support to more families living in his apartment complex with the help of his friend Abdihamid (Abdul). He then began to save money and reached out to friends and relatives who generously supported Ahmed in the pursuit of establishing a formal tutoring school. Today, Ahmed and Abdul run the Hope and Care Canada Association (HCCA) in Edmonton, Alberta, where he and Abdul tutors and mentors 30 children, youth, and adults weekly.
In addition to tutoring and mentoring services, HCCA also provides resettlement support for newcomers and in 2019, they sponsored their first refugee through the Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR) program with MCC Alberta. The BVOR program helps connect the most vulnerable refugees identified by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) with sponsorship groups or individuals. As a result, sponsorship groups do not choose who they will sponsor, but are matched with refugees who have the greatest need for resettlement. Through BVOR, sponsors and refugees often build fruitful and lasting relationships, because sponsors provide the added emotional, physical, and moral support required for successful resettlement. Refugees are better able to adjust and thrive in a new culture, language, lifestyle, and employment.
left to right: Mahammad Ahmed, VP of HCCA, Muktar Ahmed, Events Organizer and HCCA Board member, Amanuel Tewelde Abraha, and Ahmed Ibrahim.
Ahmed shares that he and the HCCA team are passionate about making a positive impact in the local community, but they also have a strong desire to extend that support to displaced people overseas who need it most. Exemplifying this, Ahmed and the HCCA team were open to sponsoring any refugee and reached out to MCC to find a BVOR refugee match. HCCA was then matched with Amanuel Tewelde Abraha, a refugee from Eritrea, who was of a historically opposing ethnic group. When asked about this relationship, Ahmed described it as,
“My tribe lives both in Ethiopia and Kenya. Amanuel's tribe lives in Ethiopia and Eritrea and he is from the Eritrean side of the border (Ethiopia and Eritrea were one country before 1991)...the political border doesn't matter, what matters is the ethnicity and that is where the animosity lies.”
Despite, Ahmed and the HCCA team continued with sponsoring Amanuel, welcomed him with open arms, and together, have built a strong relationship based on peace and empowerment through HCCA’s work.
Amanuel Tewelde Abraha
Ahmed hopes to continue to expand the support that HCCA provides through tutoring, mentorship and resettlement support services. He shares: “the long term (5+years) objective of Hope and Care is the hope that one day we will have the capacity (financial, expertise and manpower) to go to conflict zones around the world and provide hope, material and emotional support to refugees who crossed international borders as well as to the internally displaced persons (IDPs).”
MCC is proud to work with individuals and groups like HCCA who are committed to breaking down barriers and building bridges of peace. To learn more about HCCA, visit: https://hopeandcarecanada.ca