Hafeez

I left my home country of Pakistan because I was no longer safe. As a young man from a village I was under constant threat of being forced to join an arbitrary army or militant groups. Pakistan has been struggling with war for the past 10 years, life cannot be lived there, life there is dangerous.

I arrived to Canada alone, with no family or friends to support me. After I was cleared by immigration in the airport the bail program took me in. They took on the responsibility of looking after me. I was taken to a detention immigration holding centre in Toronto for 4 months. I was detained because they had concerns over my identification documents. I was finally released August 19th 2015. When I was released they said “Welcome to Canada”. I had no words, I was so excited so happy to get back my life, my freedom. The staff at the bail program found a place for me to stay downtown, they brought me to Sojourn House. For bringing me to Sojourn house, I appreciate and thank the bail program.

My new life started August 19th at Sojourn House. Although I was so far from my country, family and friends, Sojourn House quickly felt like home. The way they treated me, the way they supported me through everything and through every appointment, they gave me hope, they allowed me to dream of a better life, I was happy.

I was especially thankful to Sojourn House staff for their help with my immigration papers. I was really struggling with my immigration medical examination, I could not afford the cost to have it done. When I arrived at Sojourn House I had $30 in my pocket. I expressed my concerns to my case worker, a very nice lady who spoke to management. They arranged $260 dollars for my immigration medical examination. After an immigration medical I was able to apply for a work permit, a work permit was very important for me because I didn’t want to be a weight for the Canadian government, I wanted to work. I got incredible help and supports when I applied to my work permit.

While I waited for my work permit I found other occupations in Sojourn House. I found volunteer opportunities in which I got to communicate and engage with people in the community. These experiences were very helpful for me to understand Canadian culture. As I waited for my work permit my time came up to leave Sojourn House. I wasn’t ready to leave Sojourn House yet, I wanted to have my work permit first so that I could become independent and not rely on social assistance. Sojourn House staff understood this and I was given the opportunity to extend my stay while I received my work permit. Within two weeks of receiving my work permit I found a job at Freshco, I also moved out of Sojourn House and into the community. For me this was a big success.

Freshco is close to Sojourn House which I’m happy about. When I need help and or guidance I can easily go back to Sojourn House, they always help.

Regarding my future, I played cricket professionally in Pakistan and I now dream of representing Canada in this sport by joining the professional leagues here. At this time I am playing cricket and practicing with a professional team in Toronto.

I never ever heard of a place like Sojourn House, it gave me dreams and hope. The way they supported me, I can’t imagine any other community supporting me as much as Sojourn House did.

Thank you Sojourn House.

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