Community connection and confidence in a bright future for her son is what Rudaina gained by walking through the doors at the Bayers Westwood Family Resource Centre.
Rudaina came to Halifax from Lebanon 15 years ago.
Like many newcomers, she initially struggled to find the confidence to speak English and experienced feelings of isolation. This only increased when she went through a divorce and became a single mom to a baby boy.
Looking to find meaningful connections in her community, Rudaina found the Bayers Westwood Family Resource Centre. “I had just moved to the neighbourhood and noticed a lot of people were visiting the centre and I decided to visit myself.” There she met many friendly people and became a regular participant in the weekly programs. “This place is an awesome place to learn. Everyone is really nice and I can bring my son here.”
A decade later, Rudaina is an active volunteer and part-time employee with the centre. She helps to welcome other newcomers to the community and volunteers her time to interpret and assist with daily tasks like shopping. She also attends the local community college to improve her English, Math and Computer skills.
Rudaina says she never says no when it comes to helping others because she understands how difficult it can be to leave behind your family and come to a new country, “You don’t know what will be happening when you come [for the] first time to this country.” She says she struggled at first but the experience has taught her lessons, “To be strong. To be focused in your life. To not despair. And to be happy – enjoying where you go.”
These are lessons she is now passing on to her son Abass, who is now 10 years old and in grade 5. He participates in the centre’s youth activities and Rudaina says he often tells her how good of a job she’s doing helping others and learning new skills and that he wants to do the same. She believes he has a bright future here in Canada and has been saving for his education since he was a baby.
The centre has become an important part of Rudaina’s life. “I grew up in a family that taught me to love with the religion in my heart, to respect everyone and treat everyone as equal. At the centre, the staff are very nice and they help everyone and it’s a place that makes me happy.”
I had just moved to the neighbourhood and noticed a lot of people were visiting the centre and I decided to visit myself.