Submitted by Sung Sook Woo, Family Settlement Support Worker
Semh, with her husband and their 2-year-old son and 13-month-old daughter, arrived in Canada as refugees, in February 2017. Originally from Eritrea, the family had lived in Israel as refugees for some years before being privately sponsored by the Eritrean community to come live in Canada. It was not long after moving here, when the family welcomed their third child in April 2018.
As a newcomer parent, Semh sought a safe and secure environment for her children to spend their time, and in July 2017, the family registered to join MOSAIC’s Family Centre. The drop-in centre provides supervised activities for kids; integrated health screening for children; and information sessions for parents about early childhood, health and nutrition.
Semh shows a self-starter and can-do attitude through her commitment to her children’s well-being.Sung Sook Woo
The programs however, proved to be challenging for Semh and her family. Semh’s 2-year old son frequently had temper tantrums during program activities, and Semh would have a difficult time handling his tantrums—to the point that she would sometimes leave the Family Centre in tears. Semh openly shared that she had not spent much quality time with her oldest son as she had been working full-time in the past. Semh was worried about her oldest son’s challenging behaviours, and concerned about the development of his social and communication skills.
This was when staff at MOSAIC’s Family Centre encouraged Semh to have a consultation with a professional, regarding the concerns about her son’s social development and challenging behaviours. Semh was very open and active to getting the referrals for professional help, in the hopes of gaining more knowledge about child development, and about healthy parenting skills for her children. Additionally, Semh’s three children were enrolled in an Early Learning Program and an Adapted Preschool Program to help prepare them, socially and emotionally, for entry into a mainstream Preschool program in their community.
In December 2018, Semh’s family graduated from MOSAIC’s Family Centre, after receiving support there for 18 months. Now, Semh’s children, including her oldest son, have made a smooth transition into a community Preschool and Pre-kindergarten program, where they have been participating on a regular basis without any major issues. The support that Semh and her children received at the MOSAIC Family Centre was timely, and greatly contributed to the children’s successful transition to the mainstream Preschool program.
During this time, Semh had also started volunteering in her community in her spare time. As a result of her prior work experience in the restaurant industry in Israel, Semh had been contributing her knowledge and skills in the kitchen to community work. After getting an opportunity at the 2018 Burnaby Intercultural Community Arts Festival to give a presentation on “Injera”, a bread commonly eaten in her home country of Eritrea, Semh was inspired to start a business selling her own home-made “Injera”. At the present, due to high demand for her special “Injera”, Semh is regularly supplying her bread to a local grocery store, and is generating additional income for her family.
It is no surprise that Semh was able to start her own small business, as she is a self-starter with a can-do attitude. Similarly, Semh has shown the same self-starter and can-do attitude through her commitment to her children’s well-being.
Commitment to the betterment of their children was a priority for both Semh and her husband, and they just needed additional support from the Family Centre as newcomers. Along with that support, Semh and her husband were active participants and were very receptive of the centre staff’s guidance, which ultimately led to the successful adjustment of their children to their current pre-school program. With that said, the journey to fully adjusting to Canadian life looks very promising for Semh and her family.
MOSAIC’s Family Centre runs programs for families, and provide outreach services in the community to help families navigate and locate other supports. To learn more about the Family Centre and its services please visit mosaicbc.org/familycentre.