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The Shoe Project – “COVID & US”

By Hannah Harlacher

Thanks to voice actor and coach extraordinaire Alison Matthews, Wave was able to contribute to the latest Vancouver chapter of the Shoe Project.

The Shoe Project gives immigrant and refugee women the opportunity to improve their communication skills in English, helping to attain the goals and the life that they want in Canada.

Members of the program participate in a collaborative writing workshop, personal performance coaching, and a final public speaking performance (which was moved online due to COVID-19).

Wave was lucky enough to meet 20 tenacious and hard-working women from all over the world and walks of life, with stories very unlike our own, each reflecting on life during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Each writer shared their story with us, recording for the first time in a professional recording booth.

We feel very fortunate to have been involved in this project that brings an awareness to the reality of being an immigrant and refugee woman in Canada, while offering a safe space to grow within a community, and a platform to share and teach others.

If you’d like to learn more about the Shoe Project and its participants, please visit the Shoe Project website.

Here are a few of the amazing women we got to meet and their stories.

Touran Nazargahi was born in Iran and grew up in Sanandaj. She was a great teacher and yoga instructor. She came as a refugee to Canada in 2019. She is waiting for her hearing day to be accepted to stay here or not. Her dream is to join the UN to teach and help more children to have a better education.

No Need to Pay to Watch the Stars

By Touran Nazargahi

Can you imagine the feeling of arriving as a refugee two days before your 40th birthday? On September 19th, 2019, I was homeless and jobless, with only 40 years of my painful life experience.


I cried every day during my first three months in Canada, but 2020 came, and I made a resolution to start a new life. I attended programs and workshops for refugees, which made me optimistic about my future.

But suddenly, Covid-19 destroyed all my plans. I had to stay home, and I locked myself all alone, my only company being a broken laptop. I soon became depressed.

At one point, I lost connection with my parents in Iran for three months, as I couldn’t afford to pay my cell phone bill. During those nights, I followed my mother’s advice to look at the Big Bear stars whenever I missed her because she would look at them too. I talked with her through them. Thank God there is no need to pay to watch the stars.

As a yoga instructor, I decided to overcome my depression. I kept practicing yoga every day, attended many webinars, and watched movies on my same broken laptop. I did not give up. The pandemic taught me many lessons. I found myself strong and realized how lucky I am to be in Canada.

 

Sumehra Batala comes from a small town in Gujarat, India. She worked as a private tutor back home and always strived to help students excel academically. She moved to Canada twelve years ago. To inculcate the love of reading and math, she started her business in the education field three years ago.

My Journey Through COVID-19

By Sumehra Batala

Creating stress, anxiety, and instability, Covid-19 changed my life. From a very old school, I preferred to do work in a more traditional way; little did I know that this would change soon. I have a small business in the education field, as the state of emergency was declared, I had to suspend the in-class operations. Questions started to swirl in my mind, feelings of being lost gave me sleepless nights, and I couldn’t pause my thoughts.

I contacted other entrepreneurs in the same business, and we shared innovative ideas about utilizing technology. I was afraid; this was a big change in my life since I left India 12 years ago.I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and became accustomed to doing business in a different way.

It was burdensome to do things single-handed, and I couldn’t take it. I joined many training sessions on how to conduct virtual classes for my students. At the same time, the announcement of the wage subsidy became a lifesaver, which allowed me to train my employees, who assisted me in implementing a hybrid model. Students were provided an option to join the classes online or in person with strict procedures. It is challenging, but I am determined to stay put.

Aween Mohammed Snjawi was born in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq. She was an English teacher before she moved to Canada on June 3, 2019. She loves reading, she’s also honest and wants the same from the people around her.

Just 10 Months of Happiness

By: Aween Mohammed

We were waiting for our hearing after being in Canada for 10 months as refugees. Then, in March 2020 an email changed everything. An email which informed us that our hearing day was canceled, because of Covid-19.

The hearing day is the day when our destiny would become clear. It is the day after you arrive here, in Canada, when your claim may be accepted or abandoned by the court. It was a fearful situation to think about.

This pandemic closed all the doors of our hope and happiness that we had built since we came here from far away Kurdistan- Northern Iraq. It turned into many questions about what was going to happen, and how we could survive. We were already isolated from lives we had before, and had just entered a new safe life here. My 3-year-old child could not understand all these big changes in her young life. We are not just concerned about getting through this pandemic. We are uncertain about everything that could happen and every day we check the mailbox hoping for another brown envelope from the government with news of our hearing.

But all these changes allow me to believe in the hidden power of God, that can control the universe. And I attempt to stay positive by thinking of our tomorrow as a new journey.

 

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