HOPES: Gabriel’s Story
“Thank you for the program – it was very useful for me. It prepared me to respond to the questions. It was different in my country.”
Gabriel was an accountant in Peru, and worked in finance for over ten years. But his (then) wife had always wanted to come to Canada, and so they left to start a new life. It wasn’t easy. Everything – the language, the culture – was completely different.
At the beginning it was very hard. The most difficult thing at first was the language. At first he tried to learn French because he stayed in Montreal for one year. When he came to Toronto, he relied on the Mennonite New Life Centre because he was looking for “all the help I could receive.” He needed a place that could support him in Spanish while he learned English.
The next hardest thing was finding a job. At first, he couldn’t find work, and took “survival jobs” just to make ends meet. He cleaned hotels and factories – anything to keep going. He tried home renovation and roofing. “But, I was tired of those jobs,” he says, shaking his head.
When someone told Gabriel that he should study here in Canada, he was a little upset because he thought, “I’m not a young person. I studied hard before, and now it’s too late for me.” But he knew he needed to do something different. He had always loved mechanics and motors, so after working on his English skills at George Brown College, he enrolled in Mechanical Engineering at Seneca College in the hope of starting a new career.
Gabriel had heard about the HOPES program at Mennonite New Life Centre – a new program that could help him find a job. He applied and was glad that he qualified for it. He learned how to prepare a resume and how to answer the most common interview questions. He learned “the rules” and where to find the best websites for job hunting.
With his new skills, Gabriel started his career as a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Operator; a job that requires the skillful coordination of computer programming and mechanical engineering. He manufactures acrylic display materials like shelves and signs for large cosmetic companies. “I think I’ll stay there for one year. My work is very good and my bosses all like me, so maybe I’ll get a promotion soon. I could be a Coordinator. I hope so.”
Happy in his job, Gabriel is now waiting for the paperwork to be able to bring his new wife to Canada. “It’s so good now, everything – my career, my new job, my new place. I think everything is good, so far!” His message for others is that “Life here is wonderful, but it’s not easy. You have to prepare. Study something. Get the help you need. If you make good decisions, your life can change.”