Fredericton has proven once again that it understands what community really means. With the current COVID–19 situation going on, everyone’s normal routines and future plans have changed in the blink of an eye. This has disproportionately affected Fredericton’s large population of international students, many of whom are now stuck in New Brunswick and unable to go home. For this reason, Asif Hasan and Alisha Gainforth-Hasanthe created the International Students of New Brunswick COVID-19 support group.
“Every human deserves to feel valued, and accepted—independent of their nationality, social status, gender, race or religion,” expressed Hasan.
As an immigrant and active member of the Fredericton community, Hasan was inspired to start the group on Facebook.
“Like many others within our community, my wife and I wanted to offer help to anyone who is in need, so we posted our initial support in different community Facebook pages in the Fredericton area,” said Hasan.
The couple received support from many friends and community members who shared their post, and received numerous responses from people wanting to participate or help out. However, it was a comment from an international student that caught Hasan’s attention, and led him to focus on international students.
“They’re alone now and no one asked about them. They are anxious and worried,” said Hasan.
The group has 7 volunteers between Fredericton and Moncton. Their names and phone numbers are posted on the group’s Facebook page in the “About” section.
In less than 24 hours the support group gained 300 followers and many students began reaching out for support. Hasan mentioned that the most common themes are transportation, job loss, uncertainty on managing basic needs due to finance, lack of recognition from the government and housing.
The purpose of the support group is to make all international students feel heard, to support them with their needs like groceries, transport, medication, financial stress and to bring the concerns of international students to the community, government and concerned authorities.
So far, the support group has been able to help students purchase their groceries, provided a safe place for students to ask questions concerning their status, and then forward students’ concerns to the government. Their Facebook page will continue posting updates, allowing students to know what is happening in the province.