ITP Success Stories
Before moving to Canada, I worked for the Ministry of Health in Jordan. My background was originally in dentistry, however, upon earning my Master’s in health care management I was promoted to chief of surveillance for communicable diseases and eventually chief of quality improvement for the entire country. Living in the most politically stable country in the Middle East, we were able to live safe and happy lives of plenty with our four children.
However, with the recent war in Iraq and disturbances in neighboring countries, I began to think about what sort of future I truly wanted for my children. Apart from the concern for their safety I wanted to ensure that they had the best opportunities made available to them. With this in mind, my husband and I decided to come to Canada.
One of the promises I made to myself about coming to this country was that I would never go on social assistance and never take on a survival job. If I was going to live in Canada, I was determined to work in my respective field. We saved up as much money as we could before we left with the hopes that it would make the transition as smooth as possible. But with all of the expenses; a car, an apartment, furniture and groceries we quickly burned through our savings in the first month. My husband had to return home in order to support us. I stayed in Canada to continue to adapt to our new environment and search for work.
Shortly after he left, I remember running into another woman from the Middle East who had been living in Canada for the last thirty years. She asked me what my job had been back in Jordan. When I mentioned that I had been a doctor, she sighed and looked at me with pity.
“You poor, poor woman…” she said, “and here you are nobody.”
Her words had a terrible impact on me, and they began to play over and over in my mind any time I had doubts. I would think to myself, “If that woman has been here for thirty years, she must know what life is like in Canada for immigrants.”
That was a very difficult time for me. Apart from my family, I was completely isolated from the rest of my family. I’d had no luck finding a job and not even the slightest understanding of expectations for me in my field. There were times when I would ask myself “What are you doing here? Pack your bags, sell everything off and go home.”
Despite these feelings, I continued to attend workshops at the Jewish Family Services. One day during a break, one of the facilitators handed me an application for the From Volunteerism to Employment program at Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre.
After researching the program on the website I applied and was accepted shortly after. The idea of a mentorship program which would provide me with Canadian experience was promising, but I had no idea what to expect when I met my mentor for the first time.
I was astounded by how kind and welcoming she was when we first met. Never before had I met someone who was so prepared to provide me with the opportunities as Caroline, my mentor was. From the beginning she treated me like a real employee; I was offered the same trainings, came to all of her meetings and was even asked for my input on important issues which arose during discussion.
This program provided me with the opportunity to understand the differences and similarities between the health sector here in Canada and Jordan. I was also able to network with professionals from a variety of related fields. Having my opinions valued by my Canadian colleagues did a great deal to boost my confidence. Caroline even assisted me by helping me to direct my job search. I feel that the work experience I have gained while in this program will greatly improve my chances of finding employment. I have enjoyed the environment I have worked in for the last three months so much that I hope to continue to volunteer with Pinecrest-Queensway upon completion of the program as I continue my job search. Should my work necessitate that I end my time here, I will never forget the caring and kindness the staff here have showed me.
Anyone who is considering applying to this program but is concerned about the commitment, I would encourage them to do so. My involvement with From Volunteerism to Employment has given me the key to open doors of opportunity which were once closed to me.