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According to Food Banks Canada, food bank usage across the country is on the rise. ANIDA has experienced this increase first-hand. For example, in our local food bank in Toronto, our participants have increased significantly. We have had to double our food supply to keep up with demand as other food banks in the area are closing down and those seeking help are increasing. Due to the conflict in the Middle East, a large influx of refugees has been arriving in the area. Food banks and other support services are essential to help provide basic needs for those transitioning to life in Canada.
Our Toronto Food Bank is now serving a large number of individuals and families coming from countries like Iraq and Syria. Many have 3 generations living in one home and are facing multiple barriers to steady income while they learn English and adjust to their new country.
One such individual, “Grace” a woman in her 60s, came from Iraq. While living in Iraq, Grace’s home was in an upper middle class neighbourhood and she had a happy life. Grace’s life began to change as the conflict in her country increased. Stability was no longer guaranteed, and day-to-day life meant taking risks to conduct her regular activities. One day, Grace left the house to run some errands and her husband went to work, they did not know that it would be the last day they would see their home. There was an airstrike and their community was destroyed by a bomb leaving her whole life was in pieces. One place of refuge was her local church which was nearby, however militants and extremists began targeting churches and Grace’s church was burned to the ground. Grace was left with nothing to keep her in her community, everything she knew and loved had been destroyed.
She and her husband fled to neighbouring Syria, hoping that getting out of the country would give them a chance to regain stability. Not too long after, Syria also fell into conflict, and the refugee camp was no longer safe, causing them to move to another camp closer to the city. Life in the camps was rough and food was limited, they struggled daily and watched others suffer immensely. The war sent people from all walks of life into desperation. After spending some years living in dire conditions in the camp, her son, who was then living in Toronto, was able to sponsor Grace, her husband, and their daughter to come to Canada with the hope of a brighter future.
Grace is now living with her husband in their son’s house with his family. They have not been able to move to their own home as they are not eligible to receive any social assistance at this time. Although the house is full and life can be hard, Grace is so grateful for services like the ANIDA food bank. She feels welcome and it is a place that she can connect with others, tell her story and get help. She is always grateful for the support she receives both through food supplies and love and encouragement from the volunteers
2019-03-09 19:10 pm
4401 Steeles Avenue West, Toronto ON, M3N 2S4 1-866-845-5505
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All Nations International Development Agency (ANIDA)