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Imagine being told you must leave the place you grew up. The comfort of your home, all of your memories. Imagine being separated from your family and friends. Imagine risking your life to travel across the world to find refuge.

As war tears through Syria, this is a reality for 4.8 million people. Twenty-year-old Alma Khallouf arrived in Canada four years ago with her mother when the company her mother worked for started receiving threats, placing their family at risk.

Alma, now a finance student at Saint Mary’s University, knew there were others with similar stories and that thousands of families would be arriving in Nova Scotia looking for a safe, new start. This experience led Alma to Enactus Saint Mary’s Project 360, a place where she could use her experiences and passion towards helping others in need.

Alongside her co-project manager, Youssef Al Shimy, and project founder Sylvia Gawad, the team has created a workshop series that includes an English curriculum, employability skills and soft-skills that help newcomers integrate into the Atlantic Canadian culture. Many newcomers to Nova Scotia possess valuable economic skills, but due to culture and language barriers they’re often unable to gain meaningful employment.

This issue motivated the volunteers at Project 360 to introduce an entrepreneurial focus into their curriculum. Combining the newcomers previous and newly acquired skills, the idea to start their own business took shape. Through discussion, the participants of Project 360 identified they would like to pursue the production and selling of homemade jams as a new business. In Syria, people love to make their own jam and the group hopes to capitalize on this passion to create opportunities for themselves.

“With the popularity of homemade jams in Syria, the team believes their product will bring a unique twist to an already diverse Atlantic Canadian market,” Youssef says. “The group is extremely excited to get started.”

The business is currently in the idea phase and they’re hoping to create the jams and sell them at local farmers’ markets in the coming months.

As workshop attendance continues to grow, the need increases for English-speaking volunteers to sustain the development of the project.

To assist with business development, teach English, or sponsor a participant, contact Enactus Saint Mary’s at

In this space, we invite local non-profit organizations to share what they do, and how our readers can help. If you know an organization that would like to share its story, contact us.

My East Coast Experience

My East Coast Experience is a multimedia publishing platform, celebrating the similarities and differences of people choosing the East Coast of Canada as their new home.