“After my C-section with the second baby, the nurse referred me to VHA, it was like my prayers had been answered,” says Pooja excitedly. As a recent immigrant to Canada and a mother to two children under the age of two, life certainly has its challenges. Being miles away from her home in Bangladesh, without any support from family, Pooja feels moments of isolation. “With only two to three hours of sleep every day, I would be very stressed and it would be too much pressure…VHA is my family,” she adds.
VHA’s Parent Relief Program provides Pooja with the much needed break she needs from her everyday routine. The program, funded by United Way, helps parents, who don’t have any other avenue of support and would otherwise be at risk.
“Now with two children, me being at home and my husband studying, it’s hard financially.” With no one to trust her children with, Pooja spends most days indoors in her apartment. “I feel it more at this time of the year, when the weather is nice outside.”
“We try to ensure that our clients are more integrated into the community so they can use the resources available, but it’s hard for them if they are not mobile,” says Emma Gallagher, a service supervisor for VHA’s Community Support Program. Emma accessed VHA’s Simple Comforts Fund—a $100,000 annual fund VHA created to empower staff to provide urgently needed support or items to its clients when no other resources are available—and arranged to buy Pooja a brand new stroller. “It was a big surprise for me,” says a delighted Pooja.
Without skipping a beat, Pooja quickly reads out the list of places she’d like to take her children in the stroller: “The reading program at my local library…the park, walks…just being able to go out as a family is a blessing.”