I am a refugee claimant, single mom with two daughters, Mariam (11) and Rama (10).

I came to Canada on September 30, 2021. l was living with my brother and his family (his wife and a baby boy). After 1 month and through a family member, I came to know about Sofiane and CCI.

Sofiane (a settlement counsellor) started to help me and referred me to many webinars. The early months were very confusing.

I had no money. I was at home 24/7. I don’t know how life goes outside my room. I don’t know how to go out. I am afraid of everything because I am a refugee. Maybe anything would be my fault and they (the government) will tell me, just return to your country.

I don’t know that I have rights. I WAS ashamed of my status.

Before, I was a nurse with 14 years’ experience. I had an active live. I was a head of an oncology pediatric department and later a nurse coordinator for 10 schools.

So, when I came to Canada, I felt like I was homeless. Nobody knows me, nobody hires me. I was struggling because my little girl Rama has an auto inflammatory chronic disease, and both of my girls have PTSD after the Beirut blast in 2020.

We cannot continue to live with my brother.

When Sofiane told me I can volunteer with CCI, I was afraid of how to go to work. It’s a long distance from Barrhaven to Argyle Avenue. I didn’t know how to use the bus.

I told myself, you need to achieve your dream. You need to start alone. So I started to volunteer at CCI. I met all these nice people. I became more powerful, I knew that I have many rights. CCI gave me this power to fight for my girls. Hanan (a settlement counsellor) helped me to get a home for my girls because we were living in a shelter.

I started to fight to get a work permit. I sent an email to my member of Parliament to get my work permit to save my family, His office manager helped me to do the interview with IRCC and to finally get my work permit.

On September 1st, I moved to a new apartment with my girls. I got the work permit last Friday (Sept. 2). Now I can apply to work ( I already have two job offers) and life is much easier.

I’m happy because I feel like everyone now knows me, I have connections, I can be effective again, I can be the powerful mom again, and I return like the old Hayfaa I used to be and that’s the best part of my story.