Amina is a 29 year old woman who came to Canada from Ethiopia in 2012. This was not a choice for Amina. It was a time of great civil unrest and Amina was witness to relatives and friends dying around her. She knew she had to flee or possibly lose her life. Being all alone in a foreign country and not knowing the language or customs was a life changing and challenging experience for Amina. This was Amina’s situation. The first thing she needed was an interpreter to help navigate the myriad of tasks related to settling in a new country. Apart from the language and cultural differences Amina had to get used to very different weather conditions. She woke up one winter morning in disbelief. She thought that the snow she was looking at was flour spread all over the ground. She walked outside, felt its cold wetness and marveled at what this was. In Ethiopia there is never snow.
Immigrant services helped Amina with her placement and soon she found herself in an Ottawa Community Housing apartment building with a resource centre staffed by housing support workers from Options Bytown. The housing support workers were there to provide the necessary supports to help Amina adjust to her new environment. They provided Amina with referrals to a language school, helped her furnishing her apartment, directed her to resources such as the weekly free fruit and vegetable program, referred her to various agencies that could offer her their services and they helped her find employment. That was 4 years ago.
Today Amina is a chatty, very happy young woman who has friends, a job and continues to perfect her English at school. She is so grateful for the support Options Bytown housing support workers have given her. She considers Canada her home now and is aware that the comfort and supports she enjoys today are because of the compassion from Options Bytown housing support staff. Options Bytown knows that there are many more people like Amina waiting for their help. Our supports provide the difference between being alone and isolated or thriving as Amina has.