Alhamdulillah I was blessed to join the Muslim Food Bank ASPIRE program as a caseworker and I would like to share my experience with you. I started by taking a one-day caseworker training session that taught me the theories of active listening, empathy and basic counseling skills. It also gave me hands-on training in these areas with practice sessions and role-playing with other students. I found the session to be very useful. The monthly caseworker meetings continue to provide training and especially the awareness of all the resources that are available in the Muslim and wider community.
After completing my criminal records check, I was assigned my very first client. I was really excited to meet someone new, a single immigrant mom bringing up a young daughter in Canada. I did a complete needs assessment of my client, evaluating her financial, housing, social, health and educational needs. The caseworker program provides the form. She was determined to find a job so that she could show enough income to sponsor her husband into Canada so that he would see his daughter who he had never seen! (She was pregnant when she moved to Canada as a refugee) We met a couple of times and had a few phone meetings where we exchanged ideas on parenting and talked about community resources. Eventually she found a job and felt that she no longer required the services of the ASPIRE program.
Another client is still struggling but is slowly moving towards a brighter future. When I met her two days after my initial phone call to her to arrange a meeting, she told me, “when you called me the other day, I felt some HOPE again in my heart!” This client witnessed a lot of trauma in Iraq during the war and then later in Syria and when she finally landed in Canada she thought her family would be safe and there was hope for them. Unfortunately her husband was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away suddenly leaving her with a five-month-old baby and three older kids. This left her insecure, anxious and without any hope for a better future. Slowly she fell into depression having low energy, feeling hopeless, unmotivated, anxious and always worried about her kids and the future. My role as her caseworker is to provide her with moral support, help her access available services so that she is more financially stable, encourage her to take her medications and empower her to use the community resources in order to provide the best care for her children. She has many personal strengths and with a little support is able to improve her own and her children’s quality of life. She no more needs to feel alone in Canada because she knows that God and someone from the Muslim community is there for her.
Not only does the ASPIRE program help the clients’ development; personally for me it has been a very beneficial experience. Through working with my clients I have found more meaning and purpose in my own life. It has given me a clearer perspective of life, making me appreciate and feel contented with the blessings that I enjoy. It has improved my communication, leadership and counseling skills. Through it, I have met incredible people with extraordinary strengths and determination, who continue to move on, despite all the odds against them and that is a life lesson that no college or university can teach!
Do you feel that Allah has blessed you and you want to thank Him for His blessings in a meaningful way?
Do you want to empower and provide support to Muslim individuals or families who are new to Canada?
Do you enjoy meeting new people and want to develop your own leadership, communication and confidence skills?
If you replied yes to some of the above questions, then consider joining the Muslim Food Bank ASPIRE Caseworker program. This program aims to tackle some of the underlying issues that cause people to require food bank services. It aims to recognize the challenges that clients face in supporting themselves and helps them to become independent through education, employment and community support. To find out more please call 1-866-248-3868 ext 115 or email email@example.com.
By Fatema M. Dewji, ASPIRE Caseworker
Fatema M. Dewji is a mom with 4 grown up kids. She is a certified elementary school teacher and works part time in this role. She is also a certified Peer support counselor and is currently the chairlady of the Ladies Management Committee of the Az-Zahraa Islamic Centre. She is also co-director with her husband of a private foundation called Write2Read that aims to promote literacy locally and globally. She currently lives in Richmond, BC and in her spare time enjoys volunteering, walking, reading and spending time with her family.