Saved By Grace
How your gifts are giving hope this Christmas season
Irene fled for her life from her abusive husband in Nigeria just under one year ago, making this Christmas her first away from home. But thanks to the support of Mission Services’ donors like you, she is safe today and is even looking forward to giving her children a Christmas to remember.
Exactly one year ago, Irene was hiding at her friend’s house in Nigeria waiting for her brother to call and tell her the colour of the car (blue) that would pick her up and take her to the Nigerian International Airport. There, she would board a plane with her children and leave the only home she had ever known in order to flee her husband. His extreme physical abuse and threats to harm her daughter had Irene fearing for her and her children’s lives.
“In November, I thought my life was over,” Irene says as tears roll down her cheeks. “But now I have my life back and it is thanks to my brother and to the people at Mission Services of Hamilton.”
The car that her brother told her to watch for eventually came. Irene got in and was taken to the airport where a man told her he had documents to get them through security. He said to say that she was his wife if they asked. “I was so scared but I did what he said,” she explains. When they arrived in Toronto – as Irene found out later – the man took them to an empty house and left them for two days. After, he took them to a building and said that the people inside would help her. It was early in the morning, so Irene knocked on the door. A woman answered and all Irene remembers saying was, “Please, we need help.”
Irene and her children’ s first meal in Canada was at Mission Services’ Inasmuch House, a shelter for women and children fleeing violence. Irene stayed at Inasmuch House for the next few months while she applied for refugee status. “The staff were so good to me and walked with me every step of the way,” Irene says, as she explains going to immigration hearings and applying for Legal Aid. “They gave me and my kids hope. When we came here, we were the hopeless.”
As the Director at Inasmuch House, Linsey explains, “violence against women is pervasive all over the world. It is increasingly common for us to serve women who are fleeing violence in their home countries.”
Today, Irene and her children are rebuilding their lives. Her son is already an excellent reader. “He likes to be wherever there are books,” his mom says. Irene was a seamstress at home and hopes to go back to school. “I’d like to become a Personal Support Worker and work with seniors,” she says. “That is where my heart is.”
She continues: “We will always be grateful to all of the staff and volunteers and people who give to Mission Services. They gave me my life back. I am teaching my kids to be grateful and to never take what they have for granted.”