I received a call one night regarding a mother and her two children who were in need of a place to stay. Nisa Homes was their last option, otherwise they would be forced to split up with the children going into the Children's Aid Society's (CAS) custody, since finding an apartment for them in two days is pretty much impossible. Thankfully, we did have space at Nisa Homes and Sara and herchildren moved in. I then came to learn of the series of unfortunate events that led to Sara and herchildren becoming homeless, having an open file with the Ministry, and the fear of the children going into custody very palpable.
Sara was sponsored by her son to come to Canada only a couple of years ago. Sara was 65 years old and had her two daughters at a very old age. She spoke almost no English and had a plethora of health challenges including diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Soon after their arrival, things went south when her son assaulted her daughter. The police and CAS were involved and it resulted in a restraining order against her son. This meant they could not live in the same household. So, Sara took her two young children and moved to an apartment only to be evicted over a disagreement with the landlord over rent.
Enter Nisa Homes.
During their stay at Nisa Homes, it became increasingly evident that Sara was simply overwhelmed. Coming to a new country where she wasn't familiar with the language, the law, the rules and the system could do that to a person. Relying on her son but being let down and forced to move, being evicted, trying to raise two teenagers with behavioural and developmental challenges, trying to find a new place, and trying to get used to her new environment was simply too much. And like any teenagers, her daughters took advantage of this. They were caught stealing the money set aside by their mother for rent. It came to light that this was not the first time, as couple of weeks earlier, they were caught stealing at school too. While working with them we tried to keep the children busy, have them signed up for counselling, after school activities and sports. Sadly, the stealing persisted and they were caught once again, this time by the police, stealing at the mall.
So the day came when their case worker from CAS informed us that they thought it best to place the children in foster care until Sara was able to get her affairs and health in order while working with the case worker on how to discipline and take care of her children in this new environment. That was one of the hardest meetings I ever had to sit in on. It was heartbreaking. Everyone was in tears. After begging and pleading, Sara eventually agreed that this at least gave her time to sort things out but her one condition was that they go to a Muslim foster care family. Over the next two weeks we called and researched and we followed up on every lead but unfortunately out of the very few Muslim foster families, none were willing or able to take them. In their defence, the Ministry tried everything they could, but eventually they ensured they took both children to foster homes that had Muslim workers and were segregated. They also ensured they were still taken to the mosque and any religious events, such as Ramadan and Eid.
We were able to help Sara secure an apartment and she is now working closely with the Ministry to get her girls back. Please keep Sara and her daughters, and all the other women at Nisa Homes, in your du'as.