Last week, we shared the story of how a Quebec unit was Taking Action for Refugees. Today, we’re showcasing the 3rd Victoria Guides, who supported newly arrived refugees with a school supply drive as part of their participation in our National Service Project.
Just before Christmas our unit sat down to talk about our Going Global service project. The girls had a lot of suggestions, from international pen pals to collecting items to send overseas. We talked about the Syrian refugees that were arriving in Canada and realized we could “think global and act local” by doing something to support these newcomer families. The girls were familiar with the many community fundraising efforts underway in Victoria to sponsor refugee families, but we knew we’d have to do something a bit different as a Guiding project. After some investigation, we decided on a school supply drive, knowing that many of the Syrians would be children, eager to attend school after many months or years of interrupted education. It would be a useful welcoming gift for any family, and fun to collect, too!
We decided to take advantage of the project to explore the theme of communication and public relations. We also realized that the project fits in nicely with the National Service Project: Words in Action. So in preparation for our project, the girls created video public service announcements to advertise the project. The girls wrote, rehearsed and performed in the videos, while we Guiders filmed (on a phone) and edited the ads. In the end, we decided not to make the videos public, but we enjoyed watching our productions, and I learned quite a bit about video editing!
We also generated some local media interest in our project, another great learning opportunity for our girls. We had a TV cameraman join us for a meeting to film us and check in on the donations collected so far. Some of the older girls were interviewed by both TV and newspaper, and the girls were excited to see their friends’ faces and words in the local media. We also started a simple blog to refer people for more information.
Our girls have been creative in their donation gathering, involving their own schools and extra-curricular clubs, friends and family. We have also had support from other Guiding members and districts in the city, who have joined us in collecting donations. We are in the midst of collecting and hope to have a session in a few weeks to sort and package the supplies. We are also going to include personal welcome cards with perhaps a few phrases in Arabic, and we will be including an invitation to join Guiding for any girls or women that may receive our gifts. We will be working with some of the community agencies and groups that are helping settle the new refugees in Victoria to distribute the packages.
At the beginning of February we learned that Victoria will be welcoming a much larger number of Syrian refugees than previously thought. About 300 more refugees will be arriving this month and we are glad to be able to welcome them to their new home with this small gesture of friendship.
Guest post by Guider Dee. Be sure to check out our resource Lending a hand: Supporting refugees. And share your unit’s story with us! ggcblog(at)girlguides.ca.