In School Settlement Program – A Client’s Story

December 5, 2016 | Read Time: 4 Min. | Inspiring Stories

November 2016

This story is an example of collaborative approach and client-centered solution.

PL’s story is one of strength and hope. PL and her two children were sponsored by her husband from El Salvador to Canada. Upon arrival, PL was surprised to discover that during all these years of separation, her husband had developed a romantic relationship with someone else. For PL, it was a wake-up call, as her husband started to treat her violently and the relationship became abusive. With only one month in the country, PL felt confused, lost and very lonely.

Despite PL’s lack of English, she was able to communicate her situation to a Good Samaritan who then brought her to a police station for help.

The school which PL’s kids attended at the time contacted our resident In School Settlement Practitioner (ISSP) as she has worked with many families in the school. The principal invited our ISSP to speak with mom in her native language – Spanish. During this meeting, ISSP explained to mom about her rights and responsibilities in Canada, and the support and resources that are available to her, if and when she was ready to leave her husband. ISSP realized that what PL needed the most, was somebody to listen to her situation and her needs and then prepare a plan together. At the end of PL and ISSP’s meeting, PL was determined to first help her children, as she understood that exposing them to abuse or to witness their mother being abused were both dangerous and unhealthy.

Through a team of organizations such as emergency shelters, The Calgary Police, The school board, and Child and Family Services, mom was brought to a shelter with her children that very night. During the last couple of weeks, PL received counselling for her family and completed her English assessment in order to begin attending English classes. PL has since moved to second stage housing.

PL’s kids have since transitioned to another school and have made new friends there. They are slowly beginning to get to know and build trust with their new teachers. The children continue to have supervised visits with Dad, with some conditions. What was also very important in this process was that Dad began to recognize and understand the damage and mistakes he has made and is now seeking help; he was also informed that in Canada, abuse is not acceptable.

PL’s journey ahead may still be long and she may still encounter challenges, but she is in a much better place now compare to a month ago. PL understands her rights and responsibilities, and trusts she can find help from the Calgary Police Services if she needs it. PL hopes to attend school and then find a stable employment to provide for her children. She also hopes to save enough money in order to sponsor her older son from El Salvador to Canada.

In the near future, PL is enthusiastic to spend her first Canadian Christmas safely with her children, and with a referral that our ISSP made to a local Christmas program, this family will be receiving some simple toys and a Christmas tree and hopefully build a lasting memory of their family’s first Christmas.

“Thanks to God for all the help He has put in our path, we are very well. I pray to God that He protects you and all the people that has helped me and my kids. Everyone that works here [shelter] have treated me like no one ever did in my life and they dont even no me. My kids are very grateful” – PL, 2016