Fuhara Sikitoka: A WUSC Winner
WUSC, World University Services of Canada, is the non-profit organization that works to bring young students from refugee camps around the world, to Canada for the opportunity to complete their education and begin a new life here.
The organization began in the wake of the First World War, and was known as the International Student Service, ISS. It provided for post-secondary students in post-war Europe. Students on university campuses in many other countries raised money, collected books and clothing, and helped provide for and support, these students in need.
In 1957 it evolved into the World University Service, WUSC, to better reflect the involvement of the university community as a whole.
In 1978 Canada initiated the Student Refugee Program. In the 36 years since, more than 1300 students have attended one of the 61 universities and colleges across Canada that participate. Students have come from countries in Africa such as Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Benin, Lesotho, Swaziland, Tunisia, Ethiopia and Sudan, as well as China, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Peru.
Fuhara Sikitoka is one of these students. She is a 22-year-old business student at the University of Victoria. Fuhara was born in Congo but her parents fled the country when she was little. She grew up in a refugee camp in Kenya, and followed in her sister’s footsteps, applying to the WUSC program to continue the education she needs, to fulfil her ambition of becoming an accountant.
Now in her second year, Fuhara is the social co-ordinator for the new arrivals this year. As she tells Carmel Kilkenny, she remembers grappling with different accents and being baffled by the traffic codes; traffic lights at intersections and sirens on ambulances were all new to her. But the way people smile and say hi on the street is one Canadian custom she very much appreciates.