Why Support CAWA?

CAWA provides 24/7 support to its community !

On a snowy winter night, Rashida* was in labour. Her journey to Canada from Syria was not an easy one. When it was time to finally give birth to her son, she needed someone to drive her and her husband to the hospital at 2:00 am, provide instant Arabic-English translation, and simply be there with her. Alone in a new cold country, she had no other option but to send a message to CAWA group on WhatsApp asking for help, hoping that someone would be awake and come to her rescue. At that night, Samah was miraculously awake. She drove to Rashida’s house, picked her up and her husband, went to the hospital, and stayed with them until her baby safely arrived. Samah provided urgent support to Rashida and her family that would have not been possible without CAWA. It is this kind of support and dedication that CAWA volunteers and staff provide to their community.

* All the names in this story were changed for privacy issues.

All newcomers face challenges coming to Canada, such as language barriers, economic stresses and adapting to a new society. Newcomer women, however, face unique challenges that need specific programs and resources. There is a lot of research on the significance of social networks for the empowerment and integration of Canadian newcomers, specifically women, and how those then may generate economic opportunities down the road.* In particular, reducing social isolation for refugee women and other marginalized newcomers becomes crucial for their integration in Canada. CAWA's work, as a socially-supported network, fits within this larger umbrella of supporting newcomer women to Canada that focuses particularly on those of an Arabic background.                                                                                

* Click here for resources 

But why is CAWA the organisation to provide  programs and resources to Arab women?


1. Making a huge Impact

CAWA’s home is Waterloo Region, where it has extensive reach and increasing, long-lasting impact. According to the 2016 Canadian Census, there are nearly 6,000 adult women in Waterloo Region alone identify as Arab, which includes newcomers, naturalized citizens and born citizens. Most of these women are part of larger families, and since 2016 this number of Arab women in Waterloo Region has only increased. We estimate that through our programs and support we can reach over 20,000 members of the Arab community, both adults and children. 
Over the last year, we have reached 500 individual women, and many of these are new to CAWA. Most of these women have reported that the impact that CAWA has had on their lives goes beyond the program itself, and has long-lasting effects in their personal lives as well. Due to our strong social media presence on both WhatsApp and Facebook, and the huge need for Arab language-programming, we expect this number to only increase in 2021.


2. Establishing an Arab-language support network

Many Arab women in our community have experienced trauma in their home countries, whether because of war and conflict or because of personal experiences. For others, the immigration journey has been traumatic, and isolation is a reality for many women. 

This has resulted in a community in which many women are living with long-term physical and psychological health effects, making these women very vulnerable and in dire need of support. One of CAWA’s strengths is that as an Arab organization, we have access to a volunteer base from a wide variety of backgrounds and with diverse lived experiences. We have been able to provide many women in our community with peer-support, that is both accessible and culturally sensitive. 

Creating a network to connect these women to CAWA, each other and the larger community is a major goal for CAWA. It is through this safe network, that women find the courage and confidence to become active, contributing members to the Canadian society.  


3. Bridging Canadian society and Arab community

Over the five years that CAWA has been active in the community, it has been able to connect to many local organisations, working together to provide programs and resources to Arab women in the community. CAWA has placed itself firmly in the Canadian society, through its ties with other organisations and community partners, and is the bridge between both the Canadian community and the local Arab communities. Creating this space in which both Arab and Canadian realities meet, has given CAWA a unique position and a safe space where Arab women can explore Canadian society, and establish their Canadian Arab identity.