I came from Colombia six years ago with my husband and our two daughters. We asked for asylum here in Canada because we had a situation in Colombia, my husband was threatened by the guerrilla group and we have to move to another country to save our lives, leaving behind all family, house, and friends.
First we asked for asylum in the USA but after 911 the situation there for immigrants was very difficult. Then, we decided try to get the asylum in Canada. This was a very tough process that we went through because it meant that we had to start our lives again from zero.
Once we arrived in Canada and noticed that everything was so new and unknown, we felt sort of discouraged. We needed information about how to begin our lives in this country and couldn’t find much help. We initially went to the immigration office and were informed that the YMCA Newcomer Services could help us get started.
We immediately got an appointment and not only did we receive all of the information necessary to get started, but a follow up plan for all of us so that we could keep each other informed about everything from our housing, schools for my kids, applying to social assistance and legal aid, translation of all of our documents and credentials, and even helped us with the school to learn English.
First we went to Barrie Learning Center and after that to the ESL program in Georgian College. The Y’s assistance was invaluable for us; I honestly do not know what would have happened to us without the help and support. Aside from all of this, we also were helped to get information about the YMCA and how we could apply there for a membership in which we could receive access to health, fitness and recreation for my family for a small monthly fee. This all contributed to our settlement here in Canada and helped us feel more at home.
Beside of this, YMCA gave me the opportunity to work for them and this is how I started working for YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka in 2008 in a temporary position as a clerk assistant helping in the payroll area in the summer camp season. In this time I had the opportunity to work in Payroll and Accounts Payables. Six months later, I got my permanent position as Financial Administrator for Accounts Receivables. I love my profession and have been contributed to the organization by working hard and giving suggestions for improvements in procedures and reports.
With the YMCA financial support, I did my enrolment in the Certified General Accounts program in December 2009 and my professional goal is to have my designation as CGA. I’ve now moved away and am using the tools the YMCA helped me learn and develop.
I am immensely thankful for it.
Adriana Moreno Mondragon