Gowah arrived in Canada in November 2006, as a refugee from Liberia. With her came her six children aged between 3 and 16. The total transportation loan for the family was just over $8,600, and Gowah was expected to pay $125 a month.
Gowah enrolled in classes to improve her English, so she could take advantage of employment training. She struggled with taking classes when she still had young children at home, and balancing pursuing an education for herself while still being available for her young family after school. Like many recently arrived refugees, Gowah lacks the support of extended family and a network of friends.
Gowah remembers: “I worried all the time about repaying this debt. How can I further my education and get a good job and how can I support my family, how can I provide them with good food?”
Gowah was fortunate to have her transportation loan forgiven after six months. “It is a relief,” said Gowah. “Having no loan to repay has reduced my stress.”
Since then, Gowah has completed her Health Care Aide training and is working in the field. She has been able to take some of the money she was using to repay the transportation loan and set it aside to ensure her children will have some money to pay for their education after they graduate from high school. She has also been able to move from the inner-city to a “safer” neighbourhood.
Gowah’s eldest child has graduated from high school and is planning to attend university to become a social worker. Her second child will complete Grade 12 this year and dreams of university. The youngest has just started kindergarten and loves school. Gowah wants her children to focus on their education and is relieved that they can now spend more time on studying instead of worrying about helping out with the household expenses.
|Gowah was lucky to have her family’s loan forgiven. Many other refugee families facing the same challenges as Gowah’s continue to have to repay their loans.
Read one Canadian's perspective....