Building a life in Edmonton wasn’t easy for Wendy, a Kenyan refugee. Being isolated from friends and family and raising five children without support was overwhelming. Knowing very little English, Wendy did not have the means to advocate for herself. Suffering from depression, she wanted to sleep all the time and would even forget if she had eaten in the day.
Then, her oldest son began getting in trouble at school. He hung out with the wrong crowd and even racked up Wendy’s credit card bill. Diana, a Roots & Wings worker at her son’s school, connected with Wendy to see how she could help. Wendy admits that getting help wasn’t easy. “I had a hard time because if you’re sick you think that disease will never go away. I would say I can’t change.”
Wendy always put her kids first. She knew that if she didn’t accept Diana’s help that she wouldn’t have the energy to raise her kids. Making changes for herself and her family was very important to her.
When starting to receive help, Wendy knew the importance of building the relationship. “Your worker has to understand you, and you have to understand them. You have to respect your worker and have good faith.” She loves that Diana always knew what she wanted to say. “She is so soft, she is a good worker. I am so happy about her.”
Since accepting help, Wendy has been able to improve her English and can now speak at a low intermediate level. She has also improved on self-care strategies. Before, Wendy had an “I can’t” attitude but now she is mindful of her self-talk and tells herself that she can do things. “She gave me the confidence, I get more experience because I have help beside me.”
Before, getting around the large city deterred Wendy from leaving her house. Now she is comfortable with getting around Edmonton. She now knows which stores to go to as she was assisted with getting food and clothing. She was also taught how to make use of sales.
Wendy even learned how to make her own appointments as Diana encouraged her to do it on her own. “I can’t tell you in words how many improvements I have made. Now I start to help myself, she has taught me so many things.” Wendy used to be reminded of her appointments and now she reminds Diana of them.
The Roots & Wings program also helped Wendy’s son. His grades improved and now he enjoys attending school, “He goes to school on time and he listens to what I say. I am so happy.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic started, Wendy was pregnant with and gave birth to her sixth child. Wendy has been able to maintain a healthy relationship with her husband. During this time, she has received more support from him. She also continues to exercise everything she has learned. “You can’t leave everything on The Family Centre, you have to try and push yourself. If you wait for everything forever, you’ll never change.”
Moving forward, Wendy wants to get her Canadian citizenship and travel back to her country to see family. “Before I couldn’t see the future, now I see many futures.” She wants to buy a good house for her and her children and own a brand-new car.