HOPE. This four-letter word is so meaningful to me and has become the guiding principle in my life. All of the sad and painful circumstances that I experienced have not stopped me from dreaming and hoping for a better life—for myself and for my son.
I am originally from Philippines and at one time, my life seemed to be perfect. I was the only daughter of five children in my family. And so, I grew up like a princess! I was loved, sheltered and pampered by my parents. I married my high school sweetheart; I had a good and stable career. What could possibly go wrong?
I did have one challenge – I could not conceive a child. I tried for nearly a decade and continued to hope that I would become a mother too someday. I was 33 years old when I got pregnant with twins and I was so happy!
Unfortunately, I had a very difficult pregnancy. I had to go on medical leave for the entire duration of my pregnancy and beyond. I then lost one of my babies part way through my pregnancy. When my son was born in 2000, I celebrated with great pride and joy. I considered my son a miracle and a huge blessing to our family. I was so grateful then and my life felt complete.
But, when my son was barely five months old, I discovered that my husband – the person I loved — was being unfaithful. It was indeed a serious and grave betrayal. He abandoned us – leaving us nothing but misery and shame. I was devastated and became totally depressed, as I could not bear the enormous pain and public humiliation encountered. Truly, I was then even ready to die.
Through these dark times, it was my son who gave me HOPE and strength to move on in life. He was my inspiration, helping me keep my sanity intact—to stand up and be strong as well as to fight for our rights.
My son deserves the best life possible, and so with much turmoil I decided to pursue a much better career in Dubai, UAE. I left my son under the care of my family when he was only about two-years-old, having the sole intent to work hard and save money for our best future. I did get a good job and I had a very successful career until I decided to quit my job and immigrate to Canada last 2011. I had big hopes then! The world sees Canada as one of the best places to live with the most opportunities around. Thus, I wanted to be with my son and to live a happy and productive life here. But, it was not that easy.
I could not get a job then. I was unemployed for almost a year even though I knew I was qualified enough and had the skills, knowledge and work experience for the jobs that I applied for. I even then questioned myself: Did I make the right decision of coming here?
But, I continued to HOPE. Through a Settlement Officer at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. – Surrey Branch Office, I booked an appointment at Dress For Success Vancouver for suiting purposes. I also received coaching through career center appointments as well as trainings through career center workshops. I joined Dress for Success Vancouver’s Professional Women’s Group (PWG) meetings where I met a lot of women with diverse culture, nationalities and professions.
Through all these experiences, I gained more knowledge and confidence not to mention the good friendship and camaraderie established among fellow clients. I am and will forever be grateful to Dress For Success Vancouver because they kept my hopes high, alive and intact.
I finally got a job as an Administrative Assistant. Then after six months, I was promoted to the position as an Office Manager. I was so happy because I was back in a fulfilling and a satisfying career. From then on, I managed to establish the professional and personal life that I wished for. My son and I are now happy together and living comfortably as Canadian citizens. And quite frankly, we are enjoying every moment of our lives here.
But we are not stopping at that. No! My son is graduating from High School this June 2018, and we both still share a common goal: to further reach for our dreams and for him to become successful too in his chosen career. Surely, we will continue to lead a happy and peaceful life here in Canada—together.
Photo by Broda Photography