Guest post by NSCECE second year student Emily Bishop
Being placed to volunteer with the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) for our final practicum at NSCECE has been a very valuable and eye-opening experience. We had the great opportunity to help in the welcome facility program ISANS set up with the infant to preschool newcomers. In helping with the welcome facility program it showed us first-hand the hardships refugees face and the stress families are under arriving in a new country. As well as this, it showed us the large amount of resilience these families and their children have within them.

Upon the completion of our practicum with ISANS we wanted to ask Gina, the coordinator of the program, what we could do to support the families who were leaving the welcome centre for their news homes in the community. Gina gave us many ideas about how to help and further support these families. We took all her suggestions to heart and we immediately began planning ways to make these ideas happen. One significant problem Gina mentioned was the dire need for bigger diapers. Due to materials being on a donation basis, most diapers came in a very small size that didn’t fit properly. Of course, this caused discomfort for toddlers who could not fit into infant diapers. Furthermore, there was a lack of pull-ups and older children were put in the position of having to learn how to use the toilet. This is a stressful developmental task for a child, and the children are already under a large amount of stress.

The need for diapers was a problem that saddened us greatly. We wanted desperately to help these families any way possible but it’s hard when you’re only a team of two. We put our heads together and tried to brainstorm how we could help, how we could arrange a way for these families to get diapers? Finally, we came up with an idea we both agreed on. Our idea was simple: we would ask other students at NSCECE to give donations for the cause. This is how Dollars for Diapers began. We talked to our fellow students, stressed the need ISANS had for diapers, and put out a donation box. We made a poster for the donation box, and also gave Facebook reminders. We reached out to faculty and did mini-presentations during class, and answered any questions our peers had. Due to the generosity of everyone at NSCECE, our donations amounted to $94.20. This is an unbelievable feat, and an incredible accomplishment for the 4 days we collected donations. As a result, we were able to purchase 4 boxes of diapers for the Syrian newcomers being welcomed by ISANS. Furthermore, due to the kindness of Jane Cawley, who bought a box of diapers on behalf of the college, we were also able to donate a box of pull-ups. In total, this amounted to 798 diapers for infant and toddler newcomers, all of which were shared with families in 40 minutes.

We would like to thank everyone at NSCECE for pulling together and making Dollars for Diapers so successful. We appreciate your dedication to helping children and families, as well as your generosity and unselfish temperament. All of you have helped many children and families with your altruism, and have made such an impact on the lives of Syrian families. We sincerely thank all of you, and want you to know your simple acts of kindness have made a real difference. This was a great experience for us and we know the needs will continue. We encourage others to come up with ways to raise funds to support ISANS with this effort to help newcomers.

Emily Bishop and Nahal Fakhari