Luda is one of Dress for Success Vancouver’s 2018 client ambassadors. As a new arrival to Canada she struggled to find stability for herself and her family. Luda credits her faith, her community and Dress for Success Vancouver as being instrumental in her employment journey. Here is Luda’s Story:
I grew up in Ukraine in quite a poor family. I lived with my mother, three brothers and a stepfather. As a teenager, I was attending a church where I met my future husband. We got married when I was 18.
After a few years, my husband surprised me with a decision. We were going to immigrate to Canada. At that time I didn’t yet understand that this was God’s plan for my life and I didn’t know that I had a long, hard road ahead with a lot of learning to do. After a three-year immigration process we arrived in Calgary, Alberta in 2010 and were immersed into Canadian culture.
I got what I like to call my first ‘survival job’ at a Walmart where I biked to work until the cold weather arrived. As a newcomer to Canada I experienced culture shock in the work place. There was a miscommunication which left me feeling isolated and when I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore, I gave up and quit.
I passed a road test, got a driver’s license and was finally able to drive in Canada which meant I was able to attend English classes and to work part time. After about a year of English classes I got a full-time job in the oil and gas industry and we finally started to become financially stable. We bought a car, a home and I got pregnant! Things seemed to be going better…
My son was born, but while I was on maternity leave, with a reduced income, my husband was laid off work. I had no idea how much we could cut back on our expenses until we had to! After my Maternity leave I went back to work, but the oil and gas industry was collapsing and I earned just enough hours to qualify for another EI. With nothing keeping us in Calgary moved to Vancouver to try to find work.
Our first rental place in Surrey was with filled with mildew. My E.I. had run out and we had so many bills to pay. With so few options, my husband made a decision. He took our son back to Calgary to live with his grandmother until we could become more stable. I was heartbroken.
To get my son back, I had to find work, a better place to live, and childcare. I never expected that of those three things, finding a job would be the easiest!
It was during this hard time in my life that I went to WorkBC to help me get a job. They referred me to Dress for Success Vancouver. This organization and the people there played a big role in helping me get back on my feet and back to work! I was reunited with my son and I was so happy.
Unfortunately, just before Christmas I was laid off again. I couldn’t bear the thought of saying goodbye to my son again, so I resolved to fight to keep him. I let everyone know that I wasn’t going to be separated from him again. I worked shamelessly to try to find work so that I could keep him with me. Miraculously, I got a job!
Currently, I’m half way through another one year contract at an Executive Assistant position. I feel as though God has brought me through these difficult times. These and other challenges have been teaching me some valuable lessons: don’t give up, keep my faith and to bounce forward. To trust the Lord despite the circumstances and He will always take care, send help and open the right door at the right time. He is truly taking care of me even though, at glance, everything may seem to be falling apart! I have come a long way, but I am still stretching myself to be resilient, to problem solve and to speak up for myself.
My life has always been a challenge and I doubt that it will ever be easy, but what I know is that I don’t have to do it alone. I can flourish and be joyful wherever I am with God’s help, the help of my community and my Dress for Success Vancouver Family — and, of course, with my son in my arms!
There is hope. So, please don’t give up!
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8 NIV