Success Stories

APRIL 2020  This month, we highlight a success story from Ottawa. A GAR family of 4, including 2 young children, ages 5 and 7, fled Syria due to the war.  They stayed in Jordan as refugees before arriving to Ottawa in August, 2017

The Head of the file has physical disabilities due to progressive Multiple Sclerosis which was diagnosed upon arrival to Ottawa. His spouse was 2 months pregnant upon arrival and was the sole care giver for the family. Moreover, the spouse was diagnosed with depression several years before entering Canada. The complex health needs required many visits to specialists and other health providers. They spoke neither English or French, only Arabic. They have no extended family or friend support.  The health, mental health and specialized support services and devices needed made for complex, ongoing settlement planning. There was also the additional stress of ensuring the needs of the two young children were met in all of this equation. 

Through case conferences and connections with multiple partners the following settlement goals were achieved: the community church group agreed to provide transportation support for the numerous medical appointments , as well as after school child-minding; A Women’s group provided social support to the mother;  ongoing communications resulted in receiving accessibility devices; and working internally with CCI-Settlement led to subsidized housing.

With the health and physical support needs in place, the HOF is attending LINC classes when possible and accessing community services, by using public (Paratranspo) transportation independently. The  spouse/mother is attending LINC classes and has gained the ability to pay bills, understand basic banking, booking ParaTranspo for her spouse, and using public transportation herself to access services for her and her family.  The older children are doing well in school and communicating well in English. The youngest child attends day care.  The family is now living in housing that is wheelchair accessible. Quote: “I love my electric wheelchair it give me freedom” 

FEBRUARY 2020 This month, we highlight a success story from Moncton. In Moncton, a family of four Syrian GARs has three members who are visually impaired. They have been receiving support, including assistance at school, braille lessons, classes at MAGMA, as well as referrals to CNIB which has helped immensely. Through all of this support, they have become quite independent. Staff from Moncton report, “They have accepted all help offered and worked diligently to learn the skills needed to be self-sufficient. The middle son who sings and plays the piano has also been part of a musical presentation where he sang and danced.  We are very proud of this family and wish them nothing but the best.”

JANUARY 2020 This month, we highlight an inspiring success story from Fredericton. A single client from Somalia with no official language skills was eager to start a “normal” life in Canada. Shortly after his arrival in Fredericton, he started English classes at MCAF and was connected with local community employment supports for newcomers. After eight months, he is now in Level 2 English classes and is working with a local restaurant. His also volunteering with the local Islamic and Somali community. The client shared, “I came here I was lost and MCAF guided me how to live here and helped me in many things.”

DECEMBER 2019 This month, we highlight an inspiring success story from Ottawa. Please enjoy this video sharing a client’s success story of gaining independence in their new community.

NOVEMBER 2019 This month, we highlight a success story from CSS Saskatoon. The client is a single mother six young children ranging in age from 8 month old twins to 11 years old. Sudanese in origin, she lived nearly her entire life in a refugee camp, where she never accessed formal education and as a result is illiterate in her own language and completely unfamiliar with urban living.

This woman did not seem interested in learning the skills she would need to survive in Canada.  She was not able to understand numbers or letters, so taking the bus to get home, operating the stove, setting up the laundry machines, or reading the time in a clock to send the children to school, took several weeks before she could memorize numbers and establish some daily routines. As a result, she was not sending her children to school.

The school and the Lifeskills team quickly addressed the situation of the children not attending school and she soon began consistently sending her children to school. This meant that she was at home with the 3 youngest, but still she seemed overwhelmed most of the time and she complained of illness.

Gradually, she started to engage in activities inside and out of the house. She still needs to learn many more things, as she is not completely independent yet, but now she is able to perform by herself some activities for daily living.

She now takes the bus independently and has learned to read a clock which means the children attend school on time and she can be on time for appointments. She learned to supplement the twins with baby formula, as they were crying most of the day, and it was discovered that breastfeeding was not enough to satisfy their hunger. She learned how to use diapers and understands that they have to be changed as needed. She can now prepare lunch for her family, and now provides more nutritious meals than the bread and sugary drinks or pop that she had been preparing. She can dial phone numbers and make phone calls, and can answer the phone.

Working with this family has been very challenging, but at the same time and after several weeks of intense training, the results are coming gradually. Perhaps not as fast as other families, but there is improvement in many areas.

“Since I arrived to Canada, if I needed help, there was always the Lifeskills worker ready to help me, visiting me, and checking on me. I received so much help from Global Gathering Place.”

MARCH 2019 This month, we highlight a story from CSS Windsor and the story of GAR single mom who together with her CSS caseworker has been working to be reunited with her daughter, left abroad in Germany.

Client is a single mom who arrived to Canada in late January, 2018. Upon her meeting with the immigration officer, she reported that she had another daughter (16 years of age) who did not accompany her, as this child had escaped to Germany and she could not locate her prior to the departure date. The client applied for her daughter to come to Canada under the OYW with assistance from an MCC orientation specialist. The client has had to provide the requested documentation to immigration that has not always been easy to access. The client’s daughter is young and requires assistance with understanding the various instructions that she has been given. The client’s daughter is now at the medical exam stage of the process and will need to have a medical exam completed by a panel physician within 30 days from the time the request was originally sent, or notify immigration if she cannot complete it by this timeline.

The CSS case manager and the MCC orientation specialist have been working with the client to support her in fulfilling the multiple administrative requests and to send to her daughter all the documentation that she requires to timely complete the medical exam. This includes the medical form and the lnterim Federal Health Program (lFH) document that will cover the costs of the exam, as well as, a list of panel physicians in Germany that will accept the IFH for these expenses. The client’s daughter has a trusted friend in Germany, who she reported will assist her with finding a doctor on the list and completing the medical form. The client’s dream to be reunited with her daughter is one step closer to becoming a reality.

FEBRUARY 2019 This month, we highlight a story from CSS Windsor and the story of GAR family of 4 – mom with her three teenage/adult sons— who together with their CSS caseworker have been working hard to respectively accomplish their short and long term goals.

A mother with three teenage/young adult sons, ages 17 to 24 years, arrived from Syria in February 2018. Initially, the family required assistance to connect to settlement services, English classes, and health-care providers. The sons were also connected to youth services.

Mom was motivated for her sons to work during their summers knowing that their RAP income was limited. The young men created resumes and canvassed the neighbourhoods looking for employment at Arabic-speaking businesses. They were successful and found short term summer employment.

The eldest son enrolled in the “Y Works” Employment program, which is a combination of 4 weeks in class training with a 5-12 week job placement. He worked front desk reception at a local hotel making minimum wage. He was very please with this experience and is interested in this type of work in future. He also enrolled at St Clair College in their English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program. He wants to study marketing one day.

The mother enrolled in the Startup Employment program through Windsor Women Working with Immigrant Women. The goal of the program is to address barriers that woman may experience when developing economic independence. The focus of the program is entrepreneurship skills training and creating partnerships. The mother is interested in baking and selling her baked goods. She also attends English classes to improve these skills.

Another son is volunteering at community settlement agency.

Although the family will have to transition to Ontario Works come the close of their RAP financial assistance, the CSS case manager continues to actively encourage them to pursue their employment goals. Additional employment supports for youth and suggestions for job search are given to the family. They are also advised to discuss employment supports with their caseworker through the City of Windsor.

JANUARY 2019 This month, we highlight a story from CSS Ottawa and the story of a Government-Assisted Refugee who arrived to Canada in November 2017 and together with his CSS caseworker worked valiantly over the past year to achieve pursuits in work, volunteering, and studies.

Samuel* was born in a small village in the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.). In November 2017, after having escaped political instability and violence in the D.R.C. and having spent ten long years as a refugee in Zambia – a place Samuel recounts as equivalent to an open air prison— he arrived in Quebec as a Government Assisted Refugee.

Samuel knew not a single soul in Quebec and so his intrepid disposition took him to nearby Ottawa, Ontario to join a friend and settle permanently. As a single person living on government assistance allowances well below the poverty lines, Samuel’s initial challenges were financial. He soon also discovered he would be facing complicated health challenges.

The CSS program stepped in to assist Samuel as he faced his difficult health challenges. One operation later, he was well but still lacked the confidence and knowledge of Canadian systems to pursue a post-graduate education, which he had dreamed of doing.

Samuel’s caseworker provided him with orientations about educational and employment opportunities as well as community resources. With gusto, Samuel followed through on referrals to Ottawa’s Community Connections program as well as employment services and job fairs in the city. Within a year, he had acquired his Certificate in Medical Terminology from the Michener Institute and a second certificate in Community Interpretation with Ottawa Language Access where he is now employed as an interpreter. A valiant community advocate, Samuel also volunteers with Onyx Community Services, a not-for-profit organization that offers counselling and psychotherapy services and reintegration programs for those in conflict with the law. Samuel is currently taking courses on Peace Operations at the Peace Operations Training Institute. In September 2018, he received on-the-job training at Millennium1solutions and is now gainfully employed with them.

“The input I received from the Catholic Centre for Immigrants, and the coaching by my (CSS) Caseworker(s) Halima and my previous caseworker Martin, played a great role in my integration process and I am now working at Millennium1solutions.”

*names have been changed

DECEMBER 2018 This month, we highlight a story from CSS Hamilton and the story of a Government-Assisted Refugee who arrived to Canada in May 2018 and with the help of CSS’ careful support and thoughtful programming, worked to overcome severe mental health trauma.

Malla* arrived to Hamilton with his wife in the spring of 2018. As a survivor of severe torture spanning several years in his home country, on entry to Canada Malla was immediately referred to the local hospital in Hamilton for psychological support. To compound his early challenges, his wife left him shortly after their arrival in Canada and Malla was left to cope with his mental health and financial stress alone, and without the support of family or friends.

When the CSS case worker first met Malla, Malla presented with high anxiety, tearful, and expressed he could not imagine any kind of joy in his new, Canadian future. He had no desire to attend school, socialize, find work, or learn to navigate Hamilton. After an initial unsuccessful referral to an anxiety clinic, CSS offered Malla Health and Wellness sessions which he took up actively, citing he looked forward to the sessions and getting things off his chest. During talks with his CSS case worker, Malla often spoke about how he felt distracted, preoccupied with thoughts and unable to focus in his daily life. Thanks to those Health and Wellness sessions, he confided he was able to confront his trauma and his past. He was also referred by CSS to a community health centre where he is receiving longer term intensive counselling.

Malla now has a job four days a week as a janitor; eight hour shifts which he enjoys very much. He also attends language classes Monday to Friday, full time from 9am-3pm. He is about to write his English exam to proceed to the next level, and feels confident and excited to share these updates with his CSS case worker. Malla’s case worker notes he is sharing these updates in what could only be described as close to perfect English.

“He is socializing with class attendees, something which before he would never have thought possible. He’s very animated in our sessions and a complete joker and lots of laughing in comparison to who I met when I first received [met Malla].”

Explains Malla, “If you put me on a scale, I am up and not down. From when you saw me to now I am a completely different person.”

*names have been changed