Inspiration found at special graduation

Karen Redman
Jul 01, 2018

As a Regional representative I have occasion to attend a lot of community events. In spring this includes more than a few AGM’s and graduations on my calendar.  Family and Children Services of Waterloo Region foundation has a special spot in my heart for a couple of reasons.

I was a Regional representative on the board from 1994-1997.  I joined the Capital Campaign team to raise the funds to build the fabulous centralized facility for FCS, the two school boards, KidsAbilty and so many services on Ardelt Avenue.

The graduation this year was themed Youth Celebration “The World Is Yours”. The stories of the individual youth who have spent their formative years in care, the obstacles that they have overcome and the bright futures enabled through community donors of scholarships and bursaries is inspirational.

However, the story of Hasina, Ahmed and Sharon left an indelible impression on me. From the outset, I knew this was going to be an unusual story. Sharon spoke first her journey as a Foster Mom.  The experience spanned two short years.  She began when Hasina became her foster daughter.  Hasina who is Rohinga, arrived from a refugee camp with her mother and brother. This created more questions for me. Sharon referenced that Ahmed has arrived shortly after to be their foster son.

Later Sharon said she would pick up their mother, take her shopping for ingredients and then they would cook together. The fish dishes were extremely spicy for Sharon’s palate.

Hasina is lovely, spoke perfect English and is enrolled in second year university. Her story was positive, full of thanks to FCS and her foster mother.  Hasina indicated that her brother would tell the darker side of their journey.

It was.

Ahmed spoke of the challenge of living without a father in a refugee camp being raised by a mother suffering with mental illness.  At the age of 7, he decided that his only hope was to get an education. Yet when he went to the school in the refugee camp, he was thrown out and told education was not something to which he could aspire. His life crashed down around him. At the age of 7 he lost all hope for a better future. He has dropped out of hgh school in Canada several times. Each time, his social worker from FCS keeps repeating “Ahmed, you lived through life in a refugee camp.  Most of us would have died there.  If you can do that, you can do anything”.

These supportive people in Ahmed’s life keep him going.

What an incredible inspiration.