In 2012, VWAT was successful in providing services to 1,164 newcomers to Canada. In the past year, VWAT has secured additional funds from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), grew programs including the Senior Abuse Prevention Program in collaboration with Hong Fook Mental Health Association, Canadian Cambodian Association of Ontario and KCWA Social Services (Korean Community) and, expanded their staff to a total of 14 members.[quote_box_right] Not bad for a not-for-profit association which is largely operated on volunteer based staff!
But there is still much work to be done and VWAT is turning to the Vietnamese community to help achieve its goals.[/quote_box_right]
VWAT provides an array of services to the Vietnamese community including assisting Vietnamese immigrants settle in Canada with programs such as Settlement Services & Information Workshops (which helps newcomers learn ways to adapt to Canadian culture) and other Social Activities & Interest Classes. Other programs are dedicated towards education and career opportunities for youths, senior support programs and networking activities and events for professionals within the Vietnamese community. VWAT is an unbiased organization which welcomes everyone in the Vietnamese community regardless of politics, background or gender.
While VWAT has succeeded in growing theorganization, it continues to face notable challenges. The first challenge is the lack of resources particularly Vietnamese professionals in the social work field. Understandably, the demand for counselors and social workers is high and realistically, there isn’t enough staff to accommodate for those in need. VWAT seeks additional professionals in this field to grow the program and continue to serve the community.
The second challenge is funding. Although VWAT receives government funding, the funding is limited. What may not be apparent is that government funding only provides a fraction of what is required to sustain a not-for-profit organization. VWAT still lacks the financial support required for further effectiveness and growth.
But the VWAT team has not allowed the challenges to hinder its objectives. In an effort to raise funds and awareness, VWAT has hosted various community events in Toronto. Two recent events include the The Passions for Fashions Gala, which took place last August at the Hyatt Regency and, the Vietnamese Lantern Festival, which was held last September at the Harbourfront Centre.
The Fashions for Passions Gala showcasing the fashion collections of one of Canada’s top designers, Thien Le, was organized with VWAT in partnership with other allied organizations to raise awareness about human trafficking around the world, to raise awareness for VWAT and the other allied associations and lastly, to raise funds towards the stop human trafficking initiative. $3000 was donated to three entities helping victims of human trafficking thanks to this VWAT initiative.
The Lantern Festival, which promoted Vietnamese culture to other communities living in Toronto and brought together the Vietnamese community as a whole, resulted in attracting 100 highly qualified volunteers and drew a crowd of approximately 1,000 visitors.
Both events were successful in meeting their goals; to promote Vietnamese culture and to develop this vibrant community, a community that contributes greatly to a multicultural city and nation.
Perhaps to understand the depth and significance of VWAT’s impact on the community, one must hear from some of the many people who have received assistance through VWAT’s programs.
[quote_box_right]“…Day after day, Duy (from VWAT) and his colleague Hung would visit and bring us things to use around the house and help us with various things. Because of their help and assistance, we were able to transition into our new lives with ease and peace of mind. When you arrive in a new country, you never forget the first people you meet and my family is no exception.”[/quote_box_right]
Oanh Hoang, a current staff member shares her experience:
“When I first arrived in Canada I encountered many difficulties as a result of moving to a new country where I wasn’t accustomed to the culture. I first came to VWAT as a client looking for some information about Canadian culture and learn how to adapt into this new culture. I was moved by the professionalism and warmth of the staff at VWAT and impressed with their determination to help newcomers like me. Shortly after, I applied to work at VWAT. Working at VWAT built my confidence and further improved my professional skills. As a result, I was able to grow in my career and gained optimism as a new Canadian. I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without the help of the VWAT Team.”
Another staff, Chieu Nguyen, recalls:
“In November of 2009, I landed in Canada and soon realized that my education and work experience in telecommunications was not recognized at the same level it was back home. In order to survive, I had to work various farming and construction jobs, which entailed long work long hours that carried into the night. As winter approached, farming and construction jobs became rare and I was eventually laid-off and had to live solely on employment insurance. I decided to apply for the Second Career training and worked at VWAT Family Services doing labour market research as I awaited acceptance into the Second Career program. Working at VWAT with assistance from a settlement worker, I realized how interested I was in social work. In the meanwhile, my application for Second Career training was accepted and I went on to Georgian College for the Social Service Worker program. I continued my voluntary work at VWAT and, after finishing the Georgian College program, VWAT offered me a part time job as a settlement worker. VWAT has helped me make a significant change in life.”
If you have an interest in getting involved with VWAT and have the skills to help to grow this vital organization, volunteer or donate, contact VWAT by visiting: www.vwat.org or telephone: 647 723 2165 ext:0
- Jasmine Do (Co-Chair), participants, Emillie Nguyen(Co-chair)
- Sue Nguyen (Volunteer), Thien Le (Co-chair), Kim Hoang (VWAT Staff), Participant, Kim Phuong Nguyen (VWAT ED), Oanh Hoang (VWAT Staff)