By Tom Malaba
Saturday 4 November 2023
It was an evening of my brother’s keeper followed by feasting and light music as members of the Uganda Association of Ottawa welcomed new Ugandans to Ottawa with a message to reach out in case they are in need of anything.
Different speakers from Sommerset West Community Centre, and the Ottawa Catholic School Board, gave talks and gave out information fliers on available services that the newcomers could access freely.
Information pertaining to walk-in clinics, mental health programs, education programs was provided to new comers during the last Saturday’s “Meet and Greet” function at 255 Bay Street event in Ottawa.
Pastor Joseph Kirya of the River Jordan Ministries who also runs Stepstone House called on the old membership to open up their homes and take at least one of the new members. “If you have an empty garage and you can share it with someone. Please reach-out to me, I will recommend someone you can take into your home,” Pastor Kirya said promising to take in at least 16 new comers soon. Pastor Kirya has been instrumental in helping to house immigrants through his Stepstone House.
Ottawa, the Canadian capital is a new home to hundreds of new Ugandans being housed in different shelters for the homeless in Ottawa.
Reverend Father Martin Ndyanabo of St. Elizabeth Parish warned the newcomers of how deeply irreligious Canada is, and that there were attempts to have everyone embrace the same. “Find a place of worship you are comfortable with and go there. Never feel indebted to come and worship with me just because I helped you. I helped you because I am Catholic, not for you to become Catholic,” counselled Fr. Ndyanabo.”
“Canada is deeply irreligious and unfortunately its pushing everyone to go that way. Find somewhere you can worship, remember faith is a person journey,” Father Ndyanabo noted dissuading new comers against losing their faith.
The President Uganda Ottawa Association David Kajoba noted that they were not perfect but exist to serve. “Make use of our services, we may have trust issues but help us to remain honest,” Mr. Kajoba said of newcomers that have been asking him for recommendations.
He urged the newcomers to hone their skills by undertaking volunteer work to help them get the necessary Canadian work experience for purposes of being recommended.
Looking at desperate newcomer faces, Mr. Kajoba said everything the old members are; one day the new comers will become. He urged them to remain focused on their set goals without forgetting to better themselves academically.
The Uganda Ottawa Association runs a gymnasium in Orleans every Sunday, and a soccer club – The Ottawa Cranes. Every Thursday the association runs a summer camp. “All we ask is to sign up to attend,” Mr. Kajoba noted adding that the first two years of anybody’s stay in Ottawa are very critical for the future and urged the new members to embrace them.
The new comers Ugandans to Ottawa were treated to talks in the area of education, health, parenting, especially in helping children download and relax after a tough day at school.