Elizabeth how did you discover IWSO?
I started out as a volunteer with English Language Tutoring for the Ottawa Community (ELTOC). ELTOC is an organization that sends English language teachers into immigrant and refugee homes to work one-to-one with learners. Usually, newcomers to Canada can go to Language Instruction for Newcomers, which is a government (LINC) program to learn English. But some can’t, often because they are looking after someone else – a baby, an elderly relative, or a sick or disabled family member. Almost all ELTOC clientele are women.
Some of the lovely and interesting women I’ve worked with have had a need of Immigrant Women Services Ottawa’s services, and IWSO’s executive director, Mercy Lawluvi has come to ELTOC volunteer events to speak.
What was it that interested you in IWSO?
One of my long-term students is a single mum with a troubled extended-family dynamic. I’ve accompanied her to IWSO’s offices to help her get legal advice, translators, and child-minding services. I’ve been super impressed with IWSO’s scope of offered assistance and the positive and lasting impact IWSO can have in a newcomer woman’s often difficult and complicated life.
Why do you give back?
When I was in my early 20s, I taught English in Japan. I was alone in a country where I couldn’t understand the language, couldn’t read the signs, didn’t know what that official-looking form that came in the mail was for. Luckily, I had a wonderful neighbour who helped me out. She was my fairy god-sister (she always insisted she was too young to be my mother). Her open heartedness led me to want to teach and help new immigrants and refugees after I returned to Canada.
When the pandemic struck, all my volunteer work with ELTOC stopped. We were no longer permitted to go to students’ homes. In times past, when I’ve been less able to give financially, I was always able to give time, and now I couldn’t. The pandemic also came on the heels of my mother’s death. With what my mum was able to bequeath me, I was suddenly in the opposite position: I had some money, but the time to volunteer was unavailable.
I wanted to continue to make a difference in the lives of immigrant women. Making a donation to IWSO was a way to keep doing that, even during a global pandemic… Especially during a pandemic. And most importantly, it was a way to honour my mum, herself an immigrant to Canada.
Why others may want to consider giving to IWSO:
There’s so much that immigrant women bring to our country: their enthusiasm, their skills, their dreams of a better future for themselves and their families. By contributing to Immigrant Women Services Ottawa, donors are helping give these women a chance to thrive.
Immigrant Women Services Ottawa
219 Argyle Avenue, Suite 400