Finding community through youth programs: Hanna’s story

September 13, 2022

By MOSAIC Communications Team

Each year, International Youth Day brings youth issues to the attention of the international community and celebrates the potential of youth as partners in today’s global society. MOSAIC’s Youth Programs aim to help young newcomers adjust to their lives in Canada and discover their full potential.

Hanna Yihdego remembers the joy she felt when she arrived with her mother and younger brother from Eritrea in 2019, reuniting with her father who had already settled in Canada.

“I felt really good, because it had been more than 10 years since I saw my dad,” Hanna says.

Her arrival near the end of the school year meant she needed to work hard to catch up on her studies. As a young newcomer to Canada, Hanna misses spending time with extended family and friends in Eritrea, as well as indulging in Eritrean cuisine and taking part in large cultural events involving the local community. The language barrier also presented a challenge for her mother when they arrived, which according to Hanna, made it difficult to find fellow members of the Eritrean community in the Lower Mainland.

MOSAIC’s youth programs became instrumental in helping Hanna adjust to her life in Canada as a young newcomer, where she established new friendships. She connected with Monica Navarro-Cespedes, MOSAIC’s Youth Projects Coordinator, who nominated Hanna for her education award. Monica describes her as, “an excellent example of working hard to overcome barriers, of perseverance and maturity at such a young age.”

Hanna took advantage of MOSAIC’s youth programs, including NuYu (Newcomer Youth Popular Theatre Program), wellness workshops and fieldtrips. She featured in her own documentary, which she was responsible for writing, shooting and co-producing as a part of MOSAIC’s newcomer Youth Documentary Project.

“MOSAIC really helped me to develop my communication, social and organizational skills that I usually get to apply in school with my schoolwork and friends.”

Hanna credits her mother for inspiring her to work hard and persevere.

“She always told me that every person has their own struggles and it’s the way you solve them that makes you a human being.”

After completing her high school education this year, she was awarded with the Dr. Kes Chetty Education Award and plans to study nursing at Douglas College in September. The scholarship award, named after former board member and activist Dr. Kasval (Kes) Chetty is presented annually to a MOSAIC client, immigrant, or refugee to pursue academic or vocational studies at an institution of their choice.

Hanna’s passion for helping others and giving back to her community fuels her desire to become a nurse, which she said was made possible by the support of her family, friends and MOSAIC.