Voices for Voices: M’s Story

My earliest memory as a child was from growing up, back in the Philippines. I have four siblings, and I am the middle child. Life was hard in the Philippines. My parents worked very hard in the market, but we helped one another. At the age of six, I started working to help earn a living for our family. These experiences taught me to be strong at such a young age. Later in life, I took my education in development and social work, and was an activist for causes I believed in.  Specifically for the rights of children, youth and students. I always wanted to be in the public service, so I knew when I grew up I would work in this sector.

Before I moved to Canada, I actually worked in other countries as a nanny in my early twenties. I have lived many places…and it was very exciting. In 2006 I came to Canada as a nanny. I have always worked with children, and always loved children! I was married to a Canadian and things were going well.  It was very exciting once I settled here and started to have my own children and family.

Sadly, things changed and the situation was not good. I was all alone. It is hard to be by yourself when you are being put down. My story was a fairytale. It was a dream come true. I wanted a family, I had a girl and a boy. And then the violence started. So I had to get my children out of I it. After that, my head felt blank and depressed. I felt like a loser and useless. I moved out of our place with my two kids, my youngest at only six months, and my other child was only two. I settled into the Brenda Strafford Centre. As a single mom, my entire journey changed from full-time mom to having to find work to support my little family. I had to provide and put a roof over my kids head.

When I came to the Centre, I felt so blessed because I was so supported. Everything has turned out so amazing for me. When I came to the Centre, I was able to study online to become a Community Support Worker. I had a level one certification because of the work in the Philippines. The Centre also has connections with some community centres, so when I went to a few of them for gatherings and events, I saw that one of them was hiring. So I began networking and interning at one. After being there one month, they hired me full-time! They are even  helping me continue my education to upgrade. My workplace is incredibly supportive.

I am proud of the work I do. Engaging with children is my passion. My kids are four and six now. I feel like my work is helping raise the next generation. Preparing kids for the future, raising them better then we were and teach them lessons.

If I could say one thing to women who are in an abusive situation, you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. Know what else is out there, what options you have to live a better life. Children can sense when things are off, so you have to make a change for them. For their health…emotionally, physically, all of it. A mom’s love is a selfless love, but you have to be around in order to give it.

I recently had some big, exciting news happen for me. I was able to buy a house! I am moving out of the Centre. I am getting the keys to my new place and it is a new start. Many people told me I couldn’t do it. Many said there is no way I could buy a house, make the payments. You can’t afford it. I proved they were wrong, even as a single mom. I aimed, and I got it! I reached my next dream. I am so happy! I am doing it all alone, and that is amazing.  I will celebrate everything turning out so good with some ice cream with my kids. My ex-husband told me when I moved out, there is no way you are going to make it without me. And now I have just proved that I can and that I have!

5/5 I am sad to leave a little though. I will miss so many people here. My counsellors, the other residents. The support. Now with the pandemic, the message I want people to hear is that even though it is hard…keep being positive and looking forward. You can do it, and it is going to get better! The next thing I want to accomplish is to get my kids settled. I am going to be studying again for my next level of education….and then just enjoy life! I feel very light. Keeping happy people around me.

I want to thank the Brenda Strafford Centre. It is a place where you can get better. It is up to you to strive hard to reach your goals. You can do it. With the support, you can help yourself. There are lots of doubts after what we have all gone through. But just have faith in yourself, and anyone can do it. As a mom as a daughter, I want her to grow up strong. I want her to see me as a strong person, that no one can put her down. I want to be the best role model for her. And I was able to do this because of the support and empowerment I was given. Thank you!