The Sesheme Foundation has been working with families in our East Toronto communities since 2012. Today, we are building on this experience with a renewed vision focused on creating culturally rich and inclusive communities.
Sesheme programs help convey the African worldview that emphasizes the values of family relationships, inclusiveness, child and parental care, self-sacrificing concern for others, sharing, and even hospitality.
Poverty, isolation, and employability are among the key barriers to a healthy, vibrant community. Our programs are designed to address barriers to opportunity, inequality and economic marginalization while building on our unique expertise in capacity building, community development and cultural competencies in developing community led solutions.
The rising issues we address:
1.Social isolation has increased, causing family interaction and communication to decrease
- Between 2003 and 2013 regular weekly communication between relatives dropped 12% and with friends 6%. In 2013, slightly more than 4 in 10 Canadians reported knowing many or most of their neighbours (Stats Can)
- Seniors are reported to be especially at risk – among Canadians aged 75 and older not living in an institution, almost 1 in 6 had no close friends they could confide in or call on for help. (Stats Can)
2. The need for cultural competence and capacity building to support culturally diverse and inclusive practices
- Multiculturalism has long been a cornerstone of Canadian policy (1971) but international conflicts has resulted in something of a ‘retreat’ from multiculturalism. Canadian culture places great value on diversity and inclusion as a proven path to peace and prosperity. While Canadians celebrate the value of diversity, we also have an ongoing dialogue of the challenges we face as a multicultural society.
3. The need to address poverty, inequality, and economic marginalization.
- Many Torontonians associate their vulnerability with economic disparity and poverty and this compounds the impact of social exclusion in people’s lives and indicates the complexity of the issues demanding attention. Currently Toronto’s unemployment rate is 7% (Stats Can) with 61% of its citizens reporting employment.
- 43% of Toronto workers are precariously employed and 37% of lone female parents live in poverty (Toronto Poverty Strategy)
- Contributing to employability issues are the lack of good employment skill training and, for the newcomer population, the lack of recognition of the knowledge, skill and experience in trades and professions that many immigrants bring to Canada.
- Current strategies and programs have not been sufficient to meet the needs of youth who are vulnerable to marginalization or exclusion. January 2017 employment stats showed a continued shift from full-time to part-time jobs and the youth unemployment rate remained high 13.3% (vs. 6.8% overall). (Stats Can)
4. Civic engagement and volunteerism remain stable, though volunteers donate fewer hours
- Volunteerism is often considered an act potentially contributing to social capital, because it enables people from different backgrounds to work together toward a common goal (Wu 2011)
- Civic engagement is considered a central factor in developing generalized trust. (Putnam 2000). To give meaning to generalized trust, Stats Canada found that in 2013, 44% of Ontarian’s believe their wallet or purse would be returned if found by a neighbor. This drops to 32% for young Canadians. Canadians who participated in group activities or meetings were more likely to report that most people can be trusted. (Stats Can)
- Communities do not just happen; they require an intentional community infrastructure. (Healthy Toronto by Design)
UNESCO views inclusion as “a dynamic approach of responding positively to diversity and of seeing individual differences not as problems, but as opportunities for enriching learning.”
Sesheme Foundation has developed some key core programs, services and events in its first five years. Action projects such as the Back2School Drive provide opportunities for additional engagement and capacity building. Those participating in community generated projects can practice new skills, build confidence and increase social networks. To learn more about our diverse programs and services click here
As a non-profit Foundation Sesheme needs new investments to broaden and deepen our impact on families across all the diverse communities we serve. The Sesheme Foundation’s commitment to serving even more families, in culturally-appropriate and inclusive ways, will only be possible with the support of our donors, volunteers, partners and community stakeholders. To learn more about our impact or to volunteer.