Imagine having to leave your home for fear of your safety, and traveling with your family to start a new life in an unfamiliar country. It’s no secret that immigrants around the world face particular challenges as they struggle to take care of their loved ones. Recently, the Random Acts staff embarked on a coordinated effort to improve the lives of refugee families.
Awa came to Canada as a refugee from Liberia in 2010, with her disabled mother Flatoo and her then-one-year-old daughter Aminata. She was reluctant to talk about her life there. “It was not good,” she said firmly. “I suffered.” Awa and her family were sponsored by a church in Toronto, Ontario, where they lived for six very happy years. Sadly, two of Awa’s sponsors passed away from cancer within a short period of time, and she was overwhelmed by the loss. She and her family eventually moved west to the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby, where they currently live.
Awa never had the opportunity to go to school, and was only able to attend literacy classes in Canada for a short time before needing to find work. Awa found part-time work making bath bombs for a cosmetics company, but she has had difficulty making ends meet. Her pay covers her basic living expenses, but little else.
Random Acts Outreach Manager Kristin Lindsay met Awa through Mosaic BC, a refugee and immigrant resettlement organization in Vancouver. When Kristin learned that Awa was struggling with things like getting her daughter ready for a new school year, she wanted to lend a helping hand. With financial support from Random Acts, Kristin and Awa took a trip to Costco a local superstore to load up on groceries, school supplies, and other household necessities. Kristin says Awa had never been in that kind of store, and was surprised at the large portions and case lots. They also bonded over a love of cherries, something Awa had never had before.
The people at Mosaic describe Awa as a woman with a wonderful attitude and colorful personality. Although the literacy barrier is difficult to overcome, she is ready and willing to do anything to make her family’s life better. She spoke passionately with Kristin about the kindness and generosity of her sponsors, and sends gratitude to Random Acts as well. “Family is more than your relatives,” says Awa. “Family are the people who love you.”