Wilfrid Bitchoka and Jeannette Kanyandekwe have known each other since 2004. In 2005, they found themselves working together in the same building. During that time Wilfrid was doing volunteer work for a non-profit organization, while Jeannette was working as a volunteer in the lost and found department at OC Transpo.
During lunch hours they would discuss their aspirations and desires to help people in need throughout Canada and abroad in Africa. Jeannette has the capability to speak five languages -Swahili, Lingala, Kinyarwanda, English and French, and works as an interpreter for those who do not understand either French or English. After spending time discussing with Wilfrid, she eventually realized that she had a calling for something far-more ambitious than her current position. This revelation came to Jeannette as she began to notice that the clientele she saw daily had numerous needs that nobody answered. Days after this realization they both had the idea to unite their efforts and create an organization to facilitate the integration of immigrants.
In January of 2006, they prepared a request to incorporate the organization, and immediately began working. They bought themselves a file cabinet, which quickly became filled with files pertaining to individuals requiring assistance. By being immigrants themselves, they knew many people who needed help.
During the first stages of the organization, a cellular phone was the only medium to contact Wilifrid or Jeannette. They had no office and worked from Wilfrid’s car. In May of 2006, they received the official papers granting them the ownership of an authentic organization recognized by the government of Canada. The Foundation 2VB International was now incorporated, and had two objectives: help orphans in Africa and help immigrants in Canada.
Towards the end of 2006, they had to modify their objectives and intensify the Canadian aspect of their mandate. In December of 2006, they registered at the provincial level under the name Cooperation Ottawa-Carleton in connection with the foundation 2VB International. The new mandate focused on helping immigrants in Canada, specifically in the Ottawa region. In January of 2007, a board of directors was inaugurated and composed of five individuals.
The first official meeting took place in May of 2007, when the regulations and objectives of the Foundation were elected, and a scheduled monthly meeting was agreed upon.
In practice, having two names for an organization creates complications, and the organization was in need of a solution. In the summer of 2007, the board of directors adopted a resolution to change the name with the federal government and modify the mandate to focus on assisting immigrants in Canada. Officially on the 21st of December 2007, the Cooperation Integration Foundation of Canada was recognized by the federal government, but Cooperation Ottawa-Carleton remained the name of the organization on the provincial level.
The work to be carried out is immense, and often requires the aid of many individuals from public government agencies, to ensure the rights of immigrants are respected. Also, the majority of the work is performed on a volunteer bases. Finally after a year we found an organization that agreed to share a small office space with us. As a result, a normal work schedule was finally established and a description of services available was published and advertised. The desire and the need to provide assistance in our nation’s capital only increased.