Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Friendship spawns new mindset, charity, book

  • Print

After moving to Ontario from her hometown of Winnipeg, Anne Mahon discovered firsthand how hard it can be to acclimatize and make connections in a new city. And after meeting a man who came to Canada from Sudan, Africa, she thought: How difficult must it be to leave your friends, family, language and country behind to move to a foreign land?

Mahon eventually left Ontario and returned home to Winnipeg after finding that the old saying rings true: You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.

"I realized that I really love Winnipeg," Mahon said. "I never used to go to Folklorama or anything like that, but being in the city in Ontario that I was in, which was very ‘white bread’, I realized just how much I loved the cultural mosaic of Winnipeg."

After forming a close friendship with an immigrant from Sudan, Mahon says she simply knew that getting involved with the African community in Winnipeg was something that was important to her.

"I started thinking about how hard I found it living in Ontario, where I could speak the language, and the roads were the same as in Winnipeg," Mahon said. "What is is like to come here from somewhere like Africa?"

Mahon is on the board of Humankind International, an organization that is working to build a school in Somalia for refugees.

"In Somalia, school begins at around age eight," Mahon said. "We plan to target five, six, seven-year-olds, give them a half day in the classroom so that they can have some early learning tools when they go on to primary school."

Currently, Humankind International is in the process of raising funds to get the school built, and developing the curriculum and programming.

Mahon is also in the final stages of completing a book she started five years ago, which will tell the stories of over 15 African immigrants who have found a home in Winnipeg. While all of the immigrants in the book have an interesting story to tell, Mahon said the one that stuck with her most was that of Muuxi Adam, one of the founders of Humankind International.

"Muuxi was left by a handler at a bus station next to the University of Winnipeg. He didn’t speak English, had no money, and at age 16, that was how he started his life in Winnipeg," Mahon said. "Now he’s a student at the U of W, works full time and is the most hope-filled, charismatic person."

Mahon said she currently has two publishers interested in the book, and is hoping for a 2012 release, but possibly 2013. Mahon will donate all funds from the sale of her book to a Winnipeg Foundation endowment fund that will offer post secondary scholarships to the African community in Winnipeg, as well as small business micro-lending.

Mahon also is a classroom volunteer at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM), helping with the Newcomer Literacy Initiative.

"Even though I don’t speak their language and they’re working on their English, we just have the best exchanges together," Mahon said.

"Any service or volunteering that I’ve given along the way, I’ve been incredibly enhanced by the interaction with my African friends. Their sense of humour, and appreciation for who I am has taught me a lot about human nature, and I’m grateful for being able to have found my way in getting to know so many incredible people."


Updated on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 6:46 PM CST: Corrects to state Mahon is a board member of Humankind International and Muuxi Adam is a founder, and Mahon is a classroom volunteer with the Newcomer Literacy Initiative.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


I Dream of Diesel at Rachel Brown Theatre scene preview

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  070527 The 21st Annual Teddy Bears' Picnic at Assiniboine Park. The Orlan Ukrainian Dancers perform on stage.

View More Gallery Photos

  • Africa edition

    Africa is one complex and gloriously unmanageable 'theme' to choose to kick off our 2012 series, Our City Our World, which is why it took up the whole newspaper on Jan. 18.

  • China edition

    Hard-working Chinese immigrants, once banned, have risen to the highest echelons of Manitoba.

  • Germany edition

    German immigrants have played a surprisingly large role in the development of the province.

  • Iceland edition

    Arriving in Manitoba in the 1870s unprepared for a brutal winter, Icelandic settlers and their descendants have left their mark on our province.

  • Italy edition

    Industrious Italians rose from peasant roots and adapted to Canadian society by mastering L’art d’arrangiarsi (the art of getting by).

  • Latin America edition

    It used to be the only time Prairie folks met Spanish-speaking people was when they vacationed down south. More often now, they're the people next door.

  • Middle East edition

    When the first Middle East families immigrated to Manitoba, mosques were unheard of and even yogurt was exotic. But now all that has changed.

  • Philippines edition

    A booming Filipino community nearly 60,000 strong has transformed Manitoba.

  • South Asian edition

    As the city's Indo-Canadian population experiences dramatic growth, its pioneers recall their warm Winnipeg welcome.

  • Ukraine edition

    Scarred by Holodomor, the Ukrainian community helped shape Winnipeg's cultural mosaic.

  • United Kingdom edition

    Manitoba's history is built on a foundation provided by settlers from the U.K., who came here seeking better lives.


Do you agree with the sale of the Canadian Wheat Board to foreign companies?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google