MunMed Gateway

Additional initiatives


In addition to the core service of producing medical histories for participants, faculty advisors in Gateway also conduct research about the health needs and issues of refugees in St. John's (see "Publications and presentations" section). 

Gateway volunteers also lead and participate in several other initiatives, including:
  • hosting an annual Valentine's festivity for newcomers
  • purchasing car seats, vitamin D supplements and acetaminophen for families
  • cooking and socializing with newcomers in Cooking Together
  • assisting with well women clinics.

In 2015-2016, our additional initiatives featured: 

Health supplies 

Gateway partners and volunteers also worked to continue providing refugee participants with much needed supplies that contribute to good health and wellbeing. Student volunteers fundraise to purchase the supplies, and we receive in-kind as well as monetary donations toward these initiatives:
  • Car seats – Many refugee families are unable to afford car seats that meet current safety standards. This year (the fourth year for this initiative), a donation from Mr. Ron King provided for the purchase of four car seats to be given to refugee families.
  • Vitamin D – A donation from Mr. Ron King continued to provide vitamin D and acetaminophen supplements to all families with babies. The drops are given to families by Nurse Barbara Albrechtsons at ANC’s public health clinic, who explains to parents how to use them.
  • Oral health supplies – In 2015, we received a very generous donation from the staff, students and families of Paradise Elementary School who collected many, many oral health supplies (including toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss). Thanks to the abundant supply they contributed, Gateway will be able to provide these necessities to the people we see for quite some time!  We also received a generous donation of oral health supplies from Dr. Larry Bursey and Amanda Demsey at Freshwater Dental.
  • Health supplies for the ANC Public Health Clinic –Gateway’s student volunteers contributed more than $200 worth of supplies purchased through their fundraising. 

Cooking Together

Cooking Together is a program in MUN MED Gateway that brings medical students and newcomer refugees together for cooking and socializing. Through this we aim to promote cross-cultural communication, awareness and appreciation for both the students and refugees. The impetus for Cooking Together began in 2013 from medical students who were interested in working with newcomer refugees on food and nutrition and from a need to address social isolation among newcomer refugees (this need was brought to MUN MED Gateway by the Association for New Canadians who were observing that many recently arrived newcomers were single, young adults facing extreme isolation). Over the last three years, Gateway partners have worked together to identify and pilot opportunities for meeting these goals.
For newcomer refugees Cooking Together provides opportunities for meeting local people, making friends, practicing communication, learning about resources and opportunities in St. John’s, and developing self-confidence in participating in their new community. At the same time, medical students benefit from opportunities to learn from and about refugees. Medical students develop awareness of and appreciation for the strength and resilience of vulnerable populations. These opportunities also shape their view of their role as future physicians working in the community (i.e., social accountability) and their ability to be volunteers, advocates and leaders in their communities.
This year, the Cooking Together program had four elements, made possible by program funding from the Rotary Club of St. John’s Northwest and private donation:

  • ANC men's and women's groups
Continuing the partnership established in the spring of 2014, medical student volunteers attended men’s and women’s groups hosted by the Association for New Canadians, and worked with participants to prepare meals and snacks.  Three sessions were held with each group with food selections suited to the interests of each.
Medical students and newcomer participants benefited through the collaborative and social nature of cooking and eating together. The sessions helped everyone feel more confident interacting across cultures and languages.  Medical students gained awareness and appreciation for working with people from different backgrounds and cultures. Participants were able to share their favourite traditional foods with others, discuss cooking challenges they might be facing, and feel an increased sense of community in St. John’s.  

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  • Bridges to Hope cooking classes
This year we continued our partnership with Bridges to Hope, a not-for-profit in downtown St. John’s that is committed to reducing the effect of poverty on individuals and families in our community, with programs that aim to assist people in having healthy, nutritious food. Bridges to Hope has a professional chef on staff and an industrial kitchen, so we were excited to partner with them in offering cooking sessions for newcomer refugees and medical student volunteers.
We hosted two, six-week rounds of sessions, led and facilitated by Chef Chad Coombs. Chef Chad designed meals that featured dishes from the home countries of participants as well as more “Western” style dishes. In each of the rounds, several the newcomers who participated were highly skilled cooks. So while the sessions offered a chance to learn about new dishes and skills, perhaps the greatest value of the groups came from the opportunity for the participants to share and demonstrate their skills.
As with the men’s and women’s groups, medical students and newcomer participants benefited through the collaborative and social nature of cooking and eating together. The classes helped everyone feel more confident interacting across cultures and languages.  Medical students gained awareness and appreciation for working with people from different backgrounds and cultures. The longer duration of the classes (two hours a week for six-weeks) also allowed medical students and newcomers to more deeply develop communication skills and friendships as they cooked together and shared the beautiful meals they prepared.  

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  • Young adults group
The ANC identified a need to address the social isolation that many newcomer young adults face and proposed partnering on a monthly recreational/social group. With an emphasis on healthy activity, medical student volunteers and newcomer participants enjoyed seven outings together, including snowshoeing, skiing, soccer, archery, and trips to the GeoCentre, Christmas parade and Lester’s Farm. Medical students and newcomers benefitted from socializing with and learning from each other. In addition, newcomers learned about fun activities they can do in St. John’s. 
Testimonies from participants of Young Adult's Group:
“I am happy to be in the Young Adult's Group because I have met many new people and I really like St. John's people because they are friendly. I like Young Adult's Group because I learn about and participate in many activities and the time I take helps me improve my language and makes me happier. I am thankful to all of those who help me to participate in Young Adult's Group and I thank you for this time you give me to write what I am thinking. Thank you.” - Debora Tuyisenge, Young Adult’s Group participant
“Every month we have an activity with Young Adults Group. In this year we have done a lot of activities like snowshoeing, sliding, bowling, archery, soccer and canoeing. I enjoyed all of those activities while I was with other people because I met new people and I learned many things from them. On top of participating in this group, I am proud to be in St. John’s because people in this city are so friendly and kind, that’s why I would like to say thanks to all who have given me the opportunity to participate in Young Adults Group.” - Naomi Niyukili, Young Adult’s Group participant

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