The Syrian refugees that arrived in Halifax recently have all been placed in permanent housing and the services provided by the YMCA at the temporary accommodation centre continue in 29 schools and in community centres.More than 20 YMCA settlement staff rotated shifts between the temporary accommodation and school sites delivering specialized programming for the children while working side by side with Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) to help to ease their transition.

“We created an atmosphere of a school, providing Syrian students with activities to support academic skill development, including sitting at work areas, practicing the alphabet and learning common English words,” said Heba Megahid, a recently hired, Arabic-speaking YMCA settlement staff person.

Megahid shared that the Syrian families have minimal English proficiency and were relieved to have someone who spoke Arabic to help interpret and translate basic school information about the registration process to ensure a smoother transition for the children as they started school.

“On the first day of school when the families I worked with at the temporary accommodation saw me at the gate welcoming the childr