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How Kababayan, a Non-profit Organization, Changed the Life of a Mexican Refugee

Kababayan Multicultural Centre's settlement services bring about positive transformations in the lives of those who use them. Listening to the stories of newcomers allows us to recognize and affirm the importance of these impacts.
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It was late summer of 2022 when Eva, 28, and her 7-year-old son, Matthias, left Mexico with heavy hearts. Carrying only a few pieces of clothing on their backs and their determination to leave the “monster” in their lives, they courageously embarked on a journey to Canada. 

Seeking Safety Outside Mexico

“It’s going to be okay, Mom. We will be away from the monster,” Matthias comforted Eva. He refers to his father as a 'monster’ because of his cruelty and all the harm he caused to his mom.

Eva endured twelve years of domestic abuse from her partner, Matthias’ father, whom she met at 16 and had Matthias with at 21. “I was very young and afraid, so I stayed,” she recalls. She felt trapped in the cycle of abuse until a relative suggested seeking refuge in Canada. Matthias, who was seven at that time, encouraged her to go. “He’s the reason we came to Canada; I want a better life for him,” she shares.

The Arrival: Facing New Challenges in a Foreign Land

As they arrived at Toronto Airport, Eva felt a mix of relief, fear, and isolation greeted by bustling crowds and signs they could not comprehend. "It's not just the fear of being in an unfamiliar place," she shares, "but whether it could ever feel like home."

Eva recalls their first days in the shelter as the most challenging time of their lives. Without immediate family or Spanish-speaking friends, Eva struggled to ask for help. 

Finding Hope: Connecting with Kababayan

During this time, Eva discovered Kababayan Multicultural Centre, a non-profit organization that has been assisting refugees and immigrants through settlement, employment, and cultural integration programs since 1977.

At Kababayan, Eva met Carolina, a settlement counsellor fluent in Spanish. Eva expressed her heartfelt gratitude, saying, "Carolina from Kababayan was my teacher; she taught me everything."

The organization’s support effectively bridged the communication barriers, sparking hope within Eva and Matthias.

This marked the start of Eva's transformative journey with Kababayan Multicultural Centre.

Beyond Basic Needs: Building a Community

Kababayan actively assisted Eva and Matthias during their initial settlement in Canada. Through its settlement program, funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Kababayan connected Eva with partner organizations that offered essential services such as food banks and free clothing centers, known as the New Circles Community Services.

Eva also participated in Kababayan's Library Settlement Partnerships (LSP) Program, English Conversation Circles, dedicating eight months to improving her English skills.

Additionally, Kababayan frequently collaborates with other non-profit organizations to host events for Spanish-speaking communities. Participating in these gatherings enabled Eva to connect with people sharing similar backgrounds, developing new friendships and a sense of acceptance within the community.

Eva also shared that Carolina guided her to therapy by referring her to the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture (CCVT). "The first few months were tough for me. It was a very difficult process, but therapy was very helpful," Eva disclosed, shedding light on the struggles survivors of PTSD and depression face.

A New Chapter: Embracing Opportunities

With the guidance of her settlement advisor, Eva began volunteering as a receptionist at the company, where she later obtained a full-time position. This role not only improved her English skills but also boosted her self-confidence.

Parisa, Kababayan's employment counsellor, also assisted Eva in her job search by giving her one-on-one employment sessions as part of Kababayan's employment program. During the sessions, Eva received help with resume writing and job preparation, which ensured she was well-prepared for success in the workplace.

Eva expresses her gratitude by saying: "I enjoyed my time as a receptionist because it allowed me to practice my English and connect with new people. I am thankful to both Carolina and Parisa for their support."

Furthermore, Eva also received assistance in understanding Ontario's school system through Kababayan. This support allowed her to enroll Matthias in a school adapted to his needs.

Reflecting on her Journey

It has been fifteen months since Eva and Matthias bravely moved to Canada. Eva, now 30, and Matthias, now 9, have undergone a significant emotional transformation as they continue to adapt and embrace their new home. They have now settled in their own apartment and feel a sense of belonging. Matthias is doing well at school, and Eva enjoys her job and weekend activities.

Eva and Matthias
Eva and her son, Matthias.


According to Eva, their journey is not yet over. They are now working towards obtaining their permanent residency and reuniting with her mother. Nevertheless, with the personalized support of Kababayan and their newfound community, they face the future with hope and gratitude.

With heartfelt appreciation, Eva reflects, "Kababayan was with us every step of the way. Without them, our journey to call Canada our home would have been much harder". 

Eva's advice to those following similar paths is meaningful: "Don't hesitate to ask for help. There are people and organizations ready to support you. You are not alone." Eva's story shows that hands-on support from community organizations like Kababayan can profoundly change people’s lives for the better.


Presented by: Kababayan Multicultural Centre (KMC)


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