The Multicultural Association of Perth Huron (MAPH) is celebrating over 11 years of operating out of Stratford and the thousands of people finding new homes in the Festival City and beyond.
In keeping with the spirit of the city, MAPH held a multicultural festival on Sunday to celebrate.
Geza Wordofa, founder of MAPH and a Stratford city councillor, told StratfordToday that it is days like these that make him proud, as attendees came, joined, and mingled with each other.
“We are blessed,” Wordofa exclaimed. “We’re very safe. We’re in the community … It makes me happy, how we are (diverse).”
On the front lawn of the Falstaff Family Centre, a band played, tables were filled with international food, and people from around the world now living in Canada came.
Wordofa said that people representing almost 80 countries were invited to participate and join.
MAPH was founded in 2011 by Wordofa, himself an immigrant from Ethiopia. Having studied a wide variety of subjects in Russia, he put his education into practice by working for the United Nations Refugee Agency and subsequently immigrated to Canada and started MAPH.
Their fundamental goal is to help newcomers adjust to life in Canada. They are based in Perth and Huron counties, though they operate across the nation, settling people wherever is best for them.
One of MAPH’s most recent undertakings is to assist refugees from Ukraine settle in Canada. Wordofa revealed that since the start of the war in Ukraine they have successfully settled 1,089 families in Canada.
Wordofa explained that the biggest accomplishment of MAPH is the integration of families into daily life here. They all work, have transportation, and are a part of the fabric of Canada now.
Reminiscing about how things have changed over time, Wordofa explained that there are now many more services in small cities and rural areas in Southwestern Ontario. Before, newcomers would flock to major cities like Kitchener-Waterloo, London, and Toronto.
With more services, newcomers can feel secure in places like Stratford now.
That being said, there is one aspect that he hopes will improve in the future: the wider Stratford-community coming out to events like these.
“We want people (to) come out to see more of our newcomers,” he said. “Because we are part of (the) community.”