KITCHENER — Four little boys — two and three years old — are having a grand time in their new home.
Last week they arrive with their mothers at Reception House, a home for government-sponsored refugees. The Somali boys have been living in refugee camps, where they are used to running around.
For staff at the David Street home, it means closing office doors so the boys don’t get at the computersand keeping an eye on the front door so one of them doesn’t bail to Victoria Park across the street.
“It’s crazy busy,” said support worker Genanet Habte, who spent a good part of her shift Friday chasing after the boys.
“They are jumping around and running but they are having fun.”
Reception House is full as Christmas approaches. On Dec. 12, the home received 47 clients from Iraq, Myanmar, Somalia, Ethiopia and Afghanistan.
Some families who were at the home were assigned housing to make room for the new residents. For Christmas, the house will have 27 people, 11 of them children.
The first few days after residents arrived, staff was stretched. They were working around the clock taking 10 people to hospital — a senior who had a stroke a week before she arrived in Canada, a pregnant woman with anxiety and children with flu-like symptoms.
“We had two life-skill workers taking turns and (they) stayed with one woman at the hospital for 20 hours,” said executive director Mira Malidzanovic.
This past week, Malidzanovic and her staff have been making sure Christmas celebrations are ready to go for the many who are familiar with Christmas but have never been part of the tradition.
Turkeys, donated by the House of Friendship, will be roasted on Christmas Eve and staff will prepare the fixings, including mashed potatoes and salad, for residents on Monday night.
Malidzanovic said each year she ensures Christmas traditions such as a turkey dinner are prepared so residents understand the holiday celebrated by many Canadians.
“We also celebrate Eid here, too,” she said, referring to the Muslim holiday.
On Saturday, all children will receive a stocking filled with toys, books and clothing from the local charity StuffIn Stockings, which fills stockings for youth in Waterloo Region.
Reception House, in conjunction with Mosaic Counselling, will distribute 77 stockings to children currently in Reception House as well as all the children who arrived at the home in the past year.
Santa Claus, who also speaks Arabic, will hand out presents to the youngsters.
“Families are very grateful for the gifts. They want to celebrate, too,” Malidzanovic said.