World University Service of Canada (WUSC)'s new arrival Shafi Hussein reflects on his initial moments in Victoria and his journey through the WUSC program from Kenya to Victoria.
WUSC is a non-profit organization that provides resettlement to displaced student refugees all across Canada. WUSC UVic, the branch that runs through the University of Victoria welcomed a cohort of new students at the beginning of the year, including Hussein.
Here is Hussein speaking with CFUV about his experience:
Can you tell me a little bit about your background?
“I came from Kenya, specifically I came from North-Western Kenya. It's called Kakuma refugee camp. I lived with my mom, and my eight siblings. My father passed away in 2016. So, I have completed my school in 2018. And by then the program existed some years ago. So I applied to this program and then through I went through a qualification processes. Then, by late 2019 I was successfully selected. So I was successful to become a beneficiary of the program. And by then, you have gone through a process before the students leave they take several studies like English classes. And then I came to Canada on December 20."
What were the factors that made you immigrate originally?
“I was in the capital city of Somalia, Mogadishu. And by that time, we had fighting between an Islamist group Al-Shabab. And specifically, in my family, I think at that time my father was working for a government. So those Islamic groups, when they were coming into existence, they were fighting with the government. They were also fighting with the public servants. My father was a public servant, So as a government worker, they gave him several warning to to step down from his work. So I think because of that fear is also one of the things that has forced us to leave. So that was the main reason that we left the fighting just general, it was affecting everyone. So we could not feel secure. So we just left that the capital city and then that's when we came to seek asylum in Kenya. For the first time, we came to a refugee camp in the eastern side of the country. But later we just transferred to the west. The transfer was a request, it was voluntary. Because for Human Services, at the time, 2008, there was a high influx of refugees from Somalia because of the war. So, the camp was overpopulated so they were transferring some of the refugees to the western side of the country where there was a camp. So it was voluntary and then we decided to move to the west side of the country."
What were the difficulties arriving during the pandemic?
“Oh, it was really not good. And specifically, I came without a phone so you can understand being quarantined, and you don't have a phone to communicate with family members back in Kenya. So I was really isolated, more isolated even so it was really tough. And then I was not feeling well with the journey. I even had the unwillingness. So together without anyway of communicating with my family members, my mom and my siblings, it was really tough. But now I made it.”
How did WUSC help in settling in?
“They helped me the first time, before even I came to Canada. I think they are the ones who like prepared for me the isolation and the quarantine room. Even during the quarantine, they would just bring for me anything I need like meals, everything. And then after quarantining, I've got a phone, they were the ones who were helping me to get the phone. They were also helping me to get other legal documents, my social insurance, then my BC card, my documentation, everything. And even like, when I was setting up my life after quarantine, they were just helping me for the groceries. Even now, until now, they sometimes they helped me do that. So certainly, they did everything for me, everything I need, they are there to support you.”
What are you looking forward to? Are you hoping now that you're you're getting settled in Canada that one day your family will come in and move to Canada as well?
"Maybe after everything opens up, I'll be able to travel. I have friends from the rest of the country. So maybe I'm looking forward to move around to visit my friends." "Yeah, like, I'm even planning to initiate the process of requesting for family reunion. So maybe it's not as early as I want it, but it's going to happen, it's gonna happen. I'm very hopeful."