Imagine being living in a new country, where you don’t speak the language, amidst a pandemic. That’s the potentially dangerous challenge facing newcomers to Canada, who are calling a new hotline available in Huron and Perth Counties.

“Most of the newcomers have the misconception that COVID is like AIDS. So people don’t want people to know if they test positive, because they’ll be isolated. So we try to disperse those false ideas and rumours about COVID,” says Amina Hagimusa who works in Refugee Co-ordination with the Multicultural Association of Perth-Huron.

The Multicultural Association of Perth-Huron recently launched a hotline for newcomers to the region, thanks to funding from the Red Cross.

Volunteers are available to answer questions on everything from housing to COVID-19, in over 21 languages.

“Some people just want to talk. Talk to somebody in their own language. We are lucky to live in this wonderful country, with so much access,” says Multicultural Association Perth-Huron Founder Geza Wordofa.

The newcomers' hotline is just the latest initiative from the organization. Since the beginning of the pandemic, volunteers with the association have been going door to door, safely delivering food and masks to new Canadians across the region.

“We're delivering every single day,” says Wordofa.

COVID-19 is hitting visible minorities harder across Canada, with communication and family sizes playing, at least a partial role.

“A lot of them have big families, like eight or 14 people in one house. So, that becomes a big challenge. And being in a new country, also a big challenge,” says Hagimusa.

You can find the newcomers COVID-19 hotline and more help for new Canadians at www.maph.ca.