A Journey of Love, Challenges, and Achievements: Carmen’s Story

By Claudia Porras

Carmen* immigrated to Canada nine years ago, leaving behind a hectic but happy life in the Dominican Republic. Between taking care of her two children and job responsibilities, Carmen barely found time for herself, as she juggled household chores and cooked meals for her family. She mostly relied on her mother’s support.  

As fate would have it, Carmen met a man from her home country, who had been living in Canada for 35 years. The two fell in love and later got married. For four years, the couple was in a long-distance relationship, something that was hard on them. During this time, Carmen’s husband visited the Dominican Republic from time to time, and they spent important occasions and Christmas together. 

Eventually, the couple was reunited in Canada with Carmen’s children, adjusting to this new country was a challenge for Carmen and her children due to the “serious and reserved nature of the people” and the weather compared to the Dominican Republic.  

Carmen struggled to find jobs. She even had to write a CV and cover letter to apply for a job as a cleaner, which she found strange. On top of all the difficulties in integrating into the new community, Carmen, who thought she had a good level of English, found it challenging to communicate in everyday situations after arriving in Canada, prompting her to take English classes for almost two years. 

She remembers a colleague from work giving her a card for MNLCT and encouraging her to visit the Centre. The colleague explained that the Centre would assist the mother of two with her children’s settlement needs, as well as for herself to find a job and continue her citizenship process. 

I had a wonderful visit to Mennonite where I received invaluable advice on all the necessary steps to obtain citizenship. Their specialized accompaniment made the process much easier and smoother. Overall, it was a truly blessed experience,says Carmen. 

To achieve a high level of English proficiency, Carmen had to study diligently and obtain a certificate. Afterward, she embarked on the journey to obtain citizenship with her eldest son, both taking the citizenship test class at MNLCT. Despite starting the process before the pandemic, it took nearly three years to complete. However, the memory of taking part in the oath ceremony in January 2022, where she received her Citizenship alongside her children, still fills her with joy.   

Carmen acknowledges that the journey was challenging and not solely about obtaining citizenship. She also takes pride in her academic achievements, having completed programs in Child Care and Medical Esthetics. As a result, she balances her time between being a supervisor during lunchtime at a school and caring for special children. Additionally, her children are almost completing high school and will hopefully begin their university studies soon.  

*Not her real name

Photo by Shelby Deeter on Unsplash

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"The Mennonite New Life Centre and its BEMC program came in very handy for me at the lowest ebb of my life by providing a lifeline and I am eternally grateful for that,”

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