National News

Hamilton youths raise funds to save Globe Youth Services of SISO

(December 8, 2010)

It was a night of cypher dance, bboys and bgirls, salsa and drumming as youths came together in Hamilton to raise funds to keep the Globe youth services program of beleaguered Settlement and Integration Services Organization, SISO alive. Globe Dancer

The youths treated their guests and supporters to poetry, acoustic music and free-style dancing. Cypher dance was performed by the youths who have benefited from the dance classes offered by the Globe program. The dance routine has been helpful in developing the self-confidence of the participants. Youth worker, Sidartha Murjani, originally from Indonesia who worked with some of the youths said "Events like these are important. You can dance anytime with friends but you have confidence when you dance in front of other people.” “It is important to build confidence,” he said. “Although I teach certain steps, I ask them to create their own personality. Everyone is different.”

The cypher is very similar to break dancing. “This hip hop is not about blings, money, girls and drugs. This type of hip hop is about friendship and creativity. Do not follow anybody. Express your self.”

Sidartha Murjani a.k.a. Sid is not only teaching the kids dance routines.Youth worker

Sidartha Murjani a.k.a. Sid

Sid and other Youth Workers help the newcomers with homework. “I help them with the home work. It is not that they do not know the homework it is the language issue that affects them because they are still new, some 6 months in the country,” said Sid. He noted that they performed better in mathematics. “Maths is easier because it is numbers.”

The event was to raise funds to have alternative resources to keep the Globe youth services program going. The door fee was five dollars per head.

Sid said “The best part is when I see the kids who are shy coming out of their shell.”

Phillip (19) from Sudan spoke to Mosaic Edition on how beneficial the Globe program had been to youths in the area.Poet Hamilton youth

Phillip shows off his autographed copy of 'The Book of Negroes' by Lawrence Hill

He said the program had been helpful through the homework club, debates among males and females on issues that further promoted understanding, and discussion of world issues.

"The program should stay. I met people from all countries. This is a venue where newcomers can meet friends,” he said. Phillips plans to attend college in September. He showed off the autographed copy of one of the books that inspired him, 'The book of Negroes' by Lawrence Hill.

Kodjo was at the event to support the program with his original composition rendered on the piano, Ying-yi performed her songs on acoustic guitar while Allysia and Sean treated the audience to salsa dance.

Sandra Mlekuz, SISO interim chief executive officer, who assumed her position two days prior related to the youths her background, which she said, was not different from theirs.Interim Ed “My parents came from an immigrant family. My father was here for a year before the family could come over. We came from Slovenia. Had to leave Slovenia because of war, came to Italy, had to leave Italy because family was too big."

She said "when father was in Canada the rest of the family had to go to a refugee camp in Germany before the Canadian government could let us in.” The interim CEO who would be in office till June 2011 said there was no SISO, no government grants and no Ontario works when she was born. That meant every one in the family had to work. "My two brothers were shoe shiners one brother delivered chicken while sister worked making sausages.”

She reassured the youths that all efforts would be made by her and the board to speak to stakeholders on how the program could be sustained.

In attendance were board member Yaser Haddara and some youth workers of SISO. The Citizenship and Immigration Canada, CIC a major funder of SISO had cut up to $5m out of the $12m budget of SISO. The funding cut would gut some key programs of SISO while some of the programs will be shared by surrounding settlement agencies.

The CIC is also looking at the records of the agency for proper accountability of funds. Former CEO Morteza Jafarpour has announced his retirement.

The Globe youth services program is dedicated to the settlement, integration and development of immigrant and refugee youth.

dancer

Story and photo by Edward Akinwunmi

 

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