” It is hard because when you come, you don’t know nothing, you don’t know where to go, you don’t know no english… it’s hard of you don’t know somebody.”
– A 32 year-old male claimant from Albania
The Red Cross First Contact Program has been providing refugee claimants with emergency services, information and immediate referral to the agencies which can assist them upon their arrival to Canada since November 1, 2008.
On Friday, this noteworthy program celebrated 2 years serving the BC community at the Creekside Community Centre in Downtown Vancouver. The program started with a few words by Kimberley Nemrava – Red Cross BC Provincial Director. It was followed by a very moving story by Qudsia Karimi, who spoke of her first account experience with the program.
Some of the services provided by this program include: emergency accommodations, best medical alert systems, referral to agencies, taxi fares and bus trips from YVR, meals and translation services. Services have been currently provided in over 15 languages including: English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi, Farsi, Dari, and French.
This program runs solely on volunteers and donations. If you would like to donate to this worthy cause you can do so via phone (604) 709 – 6600 or in person at 3400 Lake City Way, Burnaby. (Cheques should be made to “First Contact”). They are also looking for dedicated people to fill roles such as Multilingual Information and Referral Phone Line volunteers, Volunteer Interpreters, Working Group Volunteers, Special Projects, Fresh Start Kit Coordinators, and administrative Support.
For more information on First Contact, please contact:
First Contact Coordinator
(Photo Credits: Joseph Virassamy)