05/30/2017 03:06 EDT | Updated 05/30/2017 03:33 EDT

Syrian Women In Peterborough Say Thank You With Hand-Sewn Canadian Flags

They're grateful for the support and friendship Canadians have extended.

In the Sunflower Room at the New Canadians Centre (NCC) in Peterborough, Ont., six women are busy sewing Canadian flags.

Grateful for the support and friendship extended to them since fleeing their war torn country of Syria, the women of the collective are sewing the flags as a way of saying "thank you."

“One of the women in the collective, Emine, whispered to me she wanted to make a Canadian flag,” said Reem Ali, Community Development Worker at the New Canadians Centre.

“The next thing I knew, she had sewn one and was sharing it with the rest of the group. It was very heartwarming to see this.”

Members of a pilot project, The Newcomer Women’s Sewing Collective, is a first for the city. Still in its infancy, the eight-week program helps women join together to learn new skills, develop and enhance language, while at the same time sharing and honing their talents to create products suitable for a start-up social enterprise.

This past weekend, the group was offered a table at the Gilmour Street Garage Sale — an annual neighbourhood sale meant to bring the community together.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the women of the group to engage with our community while earning some income for the work they’ve produced. We’re very grateful they’ve been given this chance considering we are only a few weeks into the project,” said Yvonne Lai, interim director of community development at the NCC.

“For newcomer women, this is more than just a working environment," she continued.

"It is a safe space where they can connect with each other, form friendships and share details about their daily challenges as they build a new life in Peterborough.”

Many of the outreach programs designed to support integration into a welcoming community delivered by the NCC are not government funded. Programs like the Newcomer Women’s Sewing Collective, Mother Goose and the Women’s Group rely on the generosity of donor support.

By making a monthly donation of $5-$25, you can help newcomers like the women of the sewing collective have access to programs designed to develop and enhance language skills, build self-esteem and become independent—every month, all year long. Go here for more info.

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