Meet Finda, a Canadian citizen who first came to Canada in 2004 as a refugee from Sierra Leone. Finda is remarkable in that she seems to radiate joy. She says that coming to Canada was a dream and becoming a citizen was the culmination of that dream. She is proud to be a citizen of a country so full of love and consideration for its people. Buoyed by that positive energy, she is confident in a bright future.
Before moving here, Finda lived for seven years in a refugee camp in Gambia. She says that conditions in the camp were terrible. There wasn’t enough food, water, or necessities like clothes to go around. Life was so hard. Finda was so excited when she found out she could come to Canada because Canada was known among the people in the camp as the best country of all. Even so, she was apprehensive. Then one night, she had a dream. In her dream, she could see a shining light with people inside of it. She felt that the dream was God showing her future in Canada; a future filled with brilliant light.
Finda says that she was very depressed when she was in Africa. In Gambia, there was nowhere she could work, or earn money and no ability to access anything like a student loan that could allow her to study. So, she felt that she had no future. She was lucky that she was able to come to Canada as a Government Assisted Refugee. She was met at the airport by people who helped her and her family settle down. She was overwhelmed by the kindness of Canadians, especially the women. Canadian women are filled with compassion she says, “they moved me from suffering—from darkness into light.” She says that she left her depression in Africa and has found a place where people respect her, like her, and help her.
Finda has found life to be much easier in Canada. It’s easier, more relaxing, and there is peace. Shortly after arriving, Finda found work housekeeping at the hospital. She’s been working there now for eight years and she says that it’s an amazing place to work, surrounded by other very good people. Her employment was recently upgraded to permanent full-time, an important development which allows her to be able to build and plan for her future.
Finda laughs as she talks about how scared she was the first time she saw the snow. The snow fell during the night and when she woke up and saw it for the first time, she was afraid to go outside even though she knew that she had to go to work. She called her friends for advice and they offered reassurance and coaxed her to venture out. She went outside and the snow reached up to her knees. She said that she was very afraid but, at the same time, was struck by how beautiful everything was, blanketed in sparkling white. Bundled inside four coats, she couldn’t even lift her arms. Even so, she managed to get on the bus and begin learning about how to survive the winter.
Finda meets and talks to a lot of people. She knows that there are many who face real problems and sometimes they talk to her about their difficulties. However, for her, life is very good. She says that she likes the people here and she lives in a nice neighbourhood. Her face breaks into a wide smile as she explains that even though she’s the only black person in the whole apartment block, she’s never once felt discriminated against. She’s never faced it and she says that her children have never faced it either.
The future for Finda and her children is bright here in Canada. She works hard, she’s surrounded herself with strong and caring friends, and she takes advantage of every opportunity for personal growth. Right now, for example, she’s learning how to use the computer. She is grateful to the Global Gathering Place for the help she receives and, in turn, we at Global Gathering Place are grateful to Finda for her positive attitude, winning smile, and willingness to lend a helping hand. She is a shining example of why we exist.