2 • JULY 3, 2014 • KITCHENER CITIZEN (EAST EDITION)
Mural depicts help, experiences offered to refugees by Kitchener’s Welcome Home BY CARRIE DEBRONE
or 10 years, the Welcome F Home Refugee Housing Community in Kitchener has
helped refugees fleeing dangerous home countries, with shortterm housing and emotional and spiritual support when they arrive in Canada. To celebrate Welcome
Home’s success, local artist Pamela Rojas was hired to create a mural on the side wall of the centre’s building at 260 King Street East in Kitchener (above the former Morning Glory Café). Titled, ‘Stories of New Beginnings,’ the mural, depicts the experiences offered to refugees through Welcome Homes’ tenyear history. It was unveiled
A new mural titled, ”Stories of New Beginnings,” depicting the experiences offered to refugees through Kitchener’s Welcome Homes’ ten-year history, was unveiled with a ribbon cutting, tours of the facility and a reception on June 16. The event coincided with World Refugee Day.
The mural was completed with the help of 145 volunteers.
with a ribbon cutting, tours of the facility and a reception on June 16, which coincided with World Refugee Day. It shows people of many different cultural backgrounds enjoying learning English, reading, camping, meeting other people in the community and playing music. The colourful, $18,000 mural, which reaches about 21 feet up the side of the building and is 67 feet long, was painted over the last few months with the help of 145 volunteers. “The market neigbourhood has had its challenges and we wanted to brighten up the neighbourhood. We wanted to give back to this community,” said Sharon Schmidt, director of the Welcome Home Refugee Community. Schmidt explained that Welcome Home, which receives no direct government funding, is supported by local churches and private donations. Its two apartments and seven single
Sharon Schmidt, director of the Welcome Home Refugee Community (left) and mural artist Pamela Rojas.
rooms have housed 194 refugees in the last ten years. The centre provides short-term housing (up to a year) in the space it rents from Ray of Hope, which owns the building. “The world is full of heartache. We can pray for peace but we can also love refugees and help them when they come here,” Schmidt said in the mural dedication ceremony, adding, “We provide a place to
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come home to.” “When refugees come here they don’t know a soul and often they’ve been through trauma and tragedy. They can come here and feel like they have hope and be with people who care about them. We welcome them with friendship and allow them to make community connections.” Kitchener councillor Dan Glenn-Graham said the city wants to be a place that will welcome refugees, and said that according to the latest Vital Signs report, the city is not as welcoming a place as it could be adding that the work of Welcome Home and the new mural will help change that. “This mural has a special meaning – spiritual and emotional,” he said. “Art is a powerful and friendly tool,” said Rojas, who added that she hopes the mural will engage people and be educational, especially for youth. Funds for the project were donated by the The Meeting House, Mennonite Savings and Credit Union, The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation, United Way KW, KW AWEsome Foundation, Home Depot Canada Foundation, Ray of Hope, Lowe’s Canada, Battlefield Equipment Rentals and Elevation. For more information on Welcome Home visit www. welcomhomekw.ca or call 519568-8696.