Community grant supports immigrant families with school supplies and more during COVID-19

By: Alyson Gourley-Cramer, Communications advisor
Since the onset of COVID-19, climbing rates of domestic violence have been reported around the world, in part because of orders to isolate and limit external interactions. In Canada, federal consultations last spring revealed a 20 to 30 per cent increase in gender-based violence and domestic violence rates in certain regions.
Knowing this, the Horn Youth Services Foundation (Kulan Somaliland Society (KULAN)) in Edmonton, Alberta knew it had to find a way to support its community. “Like the rest of Canada, domestic violence is increasing in our community due to COVID-19,” said Khadar Jama, KULAN’s executive director. 
With funding from the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund, the Canadian Red Cross distributed grants to community organizations across the country. KULAN successfully applied and is now able to continue its programming for high-risk and low-income families.
A family, a man and two children, receiving two boxes of supplies
As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Horn Youth Services Foundation – an Alberta-based non-profit - distributed food, activity kits and school supplies to Somali-Canadian families in need in the Edmonton area. The items were provided from a grant distributed by the Red Cross through the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund.  
The main focus of its project is to provide community support counselling to 160 individuals, with a focus on those who are experiencing domestic violence. “Because of the support from the Red Cross, we are able to address this issue before it expands outside of our capacity,” said Jama.
A unique component of the program is that KULAN has developed culturally appropriate ways to provide that support. Families who have been identified will first meet with a trained counsellor, and then with an Elder from the Somali-Canadian community in Edmonton for on-going support.
“Families will be more open to listening to the Elders and hearing from them,” explained Jama. “We are grateful to the Elders, as they are the main volunteers of this program and will use traditional ways to assist families in need.” 
A second focus of the project is supporting community members from low-income homes, particularly children, with food and educational activities. At least 23 families have already been identified as needing food and supplies because of lost income or employment.
“We initially projected 70 families would be delivered food as a result of this program funding,” said Jama, “but with the added support of community members and businesses, we now expect to be able to help over 150 families.”
Children also benefitted from a virtual activity program that KULAN set up for those in elementary school and junior high. Each of the 40 families identified to date received activity kits filled with age-appropriate items designed to help alleviate the burden caused by increased isolation.
The Canadian Red Cross is funding this project thanks to the generous support of the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund granting program.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or are in immediate danger and needs help, call 9-1-1 or the emergency phone number in your area. If you are experiencing domestic violence and abuse, most provinces and territories have a domestic violence phone line and crisis lines available to provide support. provides information to help connect women and their children across Canada with the nearest shelter for safety and support.

Need help in a crisis? - Text CONNECT to 686868 to reach Kids Help Phone; or call Crisis Services Canada toll-free at 1-833-456-4566.

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