Monday, May 16, 2005

A short story which is becoming a tradition

There is a woman with limited literacy skills who has come to Canada from the Third World. She left her country because she could no longer live there because of political turmoil ... And now she tries to reconstruct her life in Toronto, but for some reason she has lost control of her own life.

She is sad because she wants to do better, but nothing works. She goes to school to learn English, where she sees other students being promoted ‑ but not her. She quits the class and looks for a job but she cannot find a job. So she returns to school to learn more English, and the story repeats itself. (This is what happens to women without literacy skills).

Then she starts to be ill, to go to the doctor for help, but the doctor cannot help because the illness is in her heart, in her mind. She becomes more depressed. She badly misses her extended family and she knows she must help them with money. But she cannot learn English, she cannot get a job.

When she turns for help to her family in Toronto she finds that her children communicate mostly in English. She cannot communicate enough with them. It is as if there are two families in one house.

She wants to solve her problems, she wants to start a new life in this country, she wants to be part of this new society, but she cannot do so. She looks for help from social workers, counsellors, and psychologists. She starts to talk about abusive relationships, about the indifference of her children, about her psychological illness. She finds that these people cannot help her because they cannot put themselves in her shoes. Time passes. Her children grow up and marry.

Finally she has grandchildren who cannot talk with her because they speak a different language. Her children are so busy living their own lives that they do not have time to visit her. She feels alone. She needs people to help her when she goes to the doctor or the pension office. But her children visit her only when they need a babysitter. She feels very sad.

Some people say that the second generation does better than the first. But in the process, they leave the first generation behind. And you know why this continues to happen? Because we need more research into these women, in order to address their real needs and to create programs to help them to integrate into this country and to be happy here.

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