Funding the Future: Maria’s story

“Maria” fled to Canada after her abusive husband began hurting her 3 children during Covid lockdowns. She flew 16,000km into safety, leaving behind all of their belongings, their family, their friends, their language and schools, as well as her career, her investments, and everything that her children had ever known. She arrived in Canada as a newly single mom of three school-aged children with six suitcases and the resolve to rebuild. With the help of Cause We Care’s Single Mothers Support Fund she is currently in her 13th month of a 16-month program, and will soon be working as a teacher. 

We spoke to Maria about her challenges, her resilience and how the funding has changed her life and her family’s future. Here’s what she had to say:

“Like many women sheltering in place during COVID lockdowns, the intimate partner abuse I had endured for 14 years intensified in frequency and intensity during our long periods of isolation. If I had written that statement two years ago, I don’t think anyone would believe me: everyone seems to think that powerful, educated, working, respected, social women don’t find themselves in abusive situations. And, yet, it was my social class that precipitated the conditions for continued abuse: I couldn’t go to the police or the courts to ask for help as my husband’s influence in government would bury my claims. Perfectly trapped, my children and I walked upon eggshells every day and those eggshells waited for me in bed every night.”

“Upon arriving in Canada, I found a home and vehicle; enrolled my children in school, sports, and support programmes; held down part time consultancy work while studying nearly full time through two Canadian universities (attaining first-class marks); volunteered making lunches for middle school students from low-income families; attended counseling and other victim support services; assembled health solutions for my chronically ill daughter; and kept up my own personal hobbies. I lived off coffee, the food bank, and hope. But, despite all that hope, I couldn’t find work in my specialized career. And so, I shifted gears and sought retraining. In September 2021, I started full time studies at SFU to attain teacher certification.”

“I am raising my children entirely on my own. In some ways, single parenting is easier, but most days, it’s hard work. I wake at 5am so that I can work before I take my kids to school then hop on a bus to university. At lunch, I do my homework and make phone calls and schedule appointments. After class, I go straight from the bus to daycare to the dinner table to kids’ soccer practices and swim lessons to homework to bedtime stories to laundry and lunch kits. My homework bites into sleep a little more every night and leaves me wondering why someone who works so hard every day still has to apologize to the landlord, give homemade playdough as birthday gifts, and avert my eyes in shame as I accept food donations. I am not lazy. I study full time and work part time, but I just can’t manage enough paid hours in the day to support my children’s needs. Cause We Care saw my resilience, struggles, perseverance and stepped in with support. Their contributions have buoyed us up, put groceries on the table, helped with afterschool care, offset some educational costs, and helped maintain the magic and sparkle of childhood.”

“In three months, I will be working as a teacher.”

To Cause We Care donors, she would like to say:

“I am thankful for your gift. I am even more thankful for the intangible and silent connection that your gift created between you and I. I am thankful that your heart is open and kind. I am thankful that you are forging forward with an agenda of solidarity. And, I am thankful that when you next meet a single mom, you might feel some spark of connection, your heart might open a little wider, and you might feel her love and gratitude for you too.”