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In the end, it was a fight about food that finally drove Maria* from her violent, hard-drinking husband.
She’d endured five years of physical and mental abuse, but on that final day in her home she couldn’t bear that her husband was refusing to feed his own children.
He constantly complained about having to provide, yet wouldn’t help Maria with the tools she needed to learn English (Spanish is her native tongue), get a job, or go to school.
When a woman graduates our Building Economic Self Sufficiency (BESS) program, she is equipped with the tools she needs to rebuild, reinvent and transform her life and often, the lives of her children. Just ask Gessell.
Gessell – a mother, a survivor of partner abuse and a proud graduate of BESS – had a dream to launch her own cleaning business. After getting her business license, she knew she needed some help to proceed. She heard about BESS from a friend and enrolled. She soon found the knowledge and guidance to successfully further her business.
“I arrived at Interval House as a young boy in the early 1990’s. As a new, immigrant family, my mother, siblings and I were alone with very little support.
Interval House was fundamental to our family establishing a new life in Canada – essentially in starting over. Their offer of support was almost like being given a second chance and my family took that opportunity gladly.
In Isabelle’s* home country in central Africa, not every girl was able to go to school, much less complete her education and enter the legal profession. So when she began practicing corporate law after her graduation, she didn’t take anything for granted.
And it got even better. While in law school she developed a relationship with another budding lawyer, Lionel*, and soon after they graduated they became engaged. In 1997, moved to Canada, got married and started their family.
Mothers and daughters treasure doing many things together...but escaping abusive partners should never have to be one of them. Yet, tragically, finding a path out of violence can be one of the life events that mothers and daughters share.
She might have been born in Botswana, but in many ways, Naledi was you.
Like so many other girls, Naledi Marope* grew up dreaming of marrying a handsome, kind, successful young man and having a beautiful family. She knew that married life wouldn’t be easy, but she was ready and willing to work hard to see those dreams come true.
“Why would you settle for a job like that with all your education and experience?”
At first, Beyhan didn’t know how to answer her son. Yes, she had experience in business management and bookkeeping, and had graduated with an honours certificate as an accounting clerk.
But she also had endured so many years of abuse that her self-worth was shredded.
You have no idea how you helped me with the course I attended last year. I took your advice and your words of encouragement and faced the world. In short, I applied for a job and I got it! I nailed the interview. I was told by the interviewer that I seemed to know more than they do. I tailored the interview to focus on my volunteering - for the past eight months as a peer counsellor. Now I will be a Peer Support Counsellor on a new project at a women’s organization that works in collaboration with five other organizations. Fazia, I am so excited and happy I attended the B.E.S.S.
When Alex and Emma* arrived at Interval House several years ago, Rubina Khan, Children's Counsellor Advocate, remembers, they cried and begged to leave. Their mother had been afraid to tell them where they were going and that they weren’t going back home. At 11 and 13, Alex and Emma wanted no part of the shelter or the teasing they knew they would take when their friends found out.
Building a new life can seem like a never-ending set of challenges, but for one beautiful singer, Interval House was in it for the long haul.