By Claudine Nduwimana

When Farouk Siluuke thinks about what Canada has to offer him, he doesn’t hesitate. Canada is a place where he can fulfil his dreams.

“Canada is a land full of opportunities,” says Farouk.

The young man arrived in Ottawa last July. There was no one to welcome him at the airport and he didn’t know a soul in Ottawa. However, a friendly passerby told him about the Catholic Centre for Immigrants (CCI).

Since that day, he has been an active member of our Youth Program at CCI. This summer he’s joining the youth soccer program that starts in June.

Our Youth Program provides activities, workshops and events for young people between the ages of 14 and 29. During the past year, young newcomers have been able to participate in sporting events, take cooking classes, go on field trips, learn to ride a bike, get help finding that first part-time job and so much more.

The goal is to help young newcomers integrate more smoothly into the community, meet new friends, and feel at home.

This winter, Farouk participated in the CCI cooking program. He’s a strong believer in treating your body right and is devoted to health and wellness.

“As I was growing up, peer pressure pushed me to do drugs at a young age but now I do not consume alcohol, smoke or take drugs,” says Farouk.

“My mind is the biggest asset I have. My head is my temple. I do not want to fill it with negative influences.”

He believes everyone has a purpose in life and this is the message he shares with other young newcomers.

He says young people need to find the confidence to follow their own dreams despite the background they might come from.

Farouk says his confidence helped him land a part-time, casual job at the LCBO. He adds he’s been fortunate to have had several job interviews since he arrived in Ottawa. Each interview is another opportunity to gain experience and build his self-worth.

“I didn’t always have confidence in myself,” he says.

He makes it a habit to read every morning. “I read mostly about stock exchange issues or financial business because my dream is to become an investor.” He says reading books inspire him to try to achieve more in life, but like a lot of young people, there are distractions to deal with.

Farouk says it can be overwhelming at times living in a new country.

He says he didn’t appreciate the cultural differences and the cost of living was more than he had anticipated. And the weather was a shock to his system.

But Farouk says he’s careful to avoid negative thoughts and instead to focus on his dreams.

“Whenever you feel like you do not want to do anything, you get overwhelmed. You should be always energetic, hungry and motivated. You have to believe in yourself.

“Your dreams are always challenged and it’s up to you to defend your dreams. Canada is a land full of opportunities.”