“We have to move out. We have no place to go.”
The woman from whom the statement came sat across from me. She looked scared and lost. Her 18 year old son stared blankly ahead.
“Where will we go? We have no money, no job, no food, no home.”
This conversation started a three-week collaboration between multiple community agencies. When the family first entered our doors they had two suitcases that held all their worldly possessions. They did not own a blanket or a pillow or a dish to eat off of. Four months previous, the family had landed in Canada in another province, fled an abusive relationship there, then lived in a shelter until a family member invited them to Manitoba. After they arrived it wasn’t much better. Within several weeks of arriving in Manitoba they were on the verge of being homeless. Not knowing English made finding a job impossible. Without a job they could not rent an apartment or buy food. Life was looking bleak.
Listening to their story was overwhelming. If something wasn’t done they would have no place to sleep. I was not sure what the next steps would be. Who would I call? Who would help someone that has little if any connection to the community?
One phone call led to another. People in the community began offering suggestions of others they thought might be able to help. Soon there was a network of people and a pool of resources that would help make adjusting to life in a new country, even though the circumstances were difficult, much better.
We were able to secure finances much quicker than initially thought thanks to the kindness and efficiency of an agency in the community.
Within a few days we found a landlord who was willing to work together with the family and their limited budget. Then came the enormous task of setting up a home from scratch. The family needed everything from pots and pans to toilet paper. After a few phone calls and a couple of names, we were able to secure furniture, bedding, housewares and even toilet paper through Steinbach Outreach and the generosity of a family who’s elderly parents were moving.
Moving day came. Individuals who did not know the family stepped in to help them move. The delivery of all the household items that had been collected over the past week filled their new apartment. As each bag was opened and piece of furniture was placed, a sense of pride and stability filled the room. After six months in a foreign country with nowhere to live, finally the family had a place to call home.
There have been people who have offered rides to the grocery store when needed, individuals who have brought necessary things like food, a vacuum cleaner and friendship to help the family begin their new life here in Canada. There has been a role for anyone who wanted to help, in whatever capacity they could. As a community, we have had the wonderful opportunity to work together.
Together, we have had the wonderful feeling of having helped create a home.
Together, we are a remarkable community!
Better TogetherDecember 6, 2017