Wegayehu Kumssa came to Canada from Ethiopia four years ago with her husband. She had graduated from an office management course and was hoping to do more schooling in Saskatoon but those plans didn’t come together. Instead, she came across the MYWAY program. MYWAY is run by the Saskatchewan Intercultural Association (SIA) and stands for “moving young women’s aspirations to reality.” It’s a nine month employment program designed for immigrant and refugee women between the ages of 18 and 30 who live in Saskatoon. Saskatoon Health Region has been a partner in the program for three years.

Aug_21_MYWAYIndividuals like Kumssa volunteer through the program in the Health Region. In her case, she volunteered at St. Paul’s Hospital. “People were so nice,” says Kumssa. “I really liked it.” The opportunity to be in the hospital environment opened the door for her to enter the STEP into Health Careers program which has now led to her full-time job in housekeeping.

“It’s hard to get in by yourself to the Health Region and you need help,” she says. MYWAY helped Kumssa with language skills and cultural understanding, not only of Canada, but also of other newcomers to the community.

Kathi Lewis, site manager for Volunteer Workforce at St. Paul’s Hospital can’t say enough good things about the MYWAY program. “Not only have the MYWAY participants filled a void when volunteer vacancies occurred, but it allows us to provide a service that is meaningful to our patients and staff. Allowing the opportunity for newcomers to volunteer in a health-care setting and build working relationships opens doors to employment opportunities either within Saskatoon Health Region or externally.”

Saskatoon Health Region was one of three organizations that received a Partner Appreciation Award in June from the SIA for their contributions to the MYWAY program. “Over the last two and half years the team at volunteer workforce has welcomed more than 10 work placements and we have had many opportunities to learn more about each other’s cultural backgrounds and traditions,” says John Campbell, regional manager of Volunteer Workforce. “Our goal as an organization is to ensure that our paid and unpaid workforces are representative of the community we serve. We have had a wonderful experience with the participants of the MYWAY program. We are pleased that this partnership allows us to become more culturally competent as an organization.”

“Thanks to Kathi and Volunteer Workforce. They helped me a lot to get a nice job,” adds Kumssa.