As I walked out of a meeting, I checked my phone and saw 13 missed calls from the same number. Panic mode set in and I quickly dialed the unknown number. On the other end, a tired and heavy voice said “hello”. I quickly introduced myself and asked how I could assist. Two hours later, I had only begun understanding the situation. Faiza, our caller, recently got married to a man across the planet, in Canada. Introduced to her through family friends as a well established business man and father of two whose wife passed away. The appeal of getting married and moving to Canada was a dream come true, after all that is the dream right? Moving to the west, the land of the free and the land of opportunities.
Soon after she moved to Canada, Faiza got pregnant. She was elated but her stepchildren were definitely not. They assaulted her one day when her husband was not home, but even when she told him, he did nothing to stop them. Faiza says he simply did not care.
Faiza explained that she had been assaulted by her husband and stepchildren even before she found out she was pregnant. Faiza sought help but didn’t receive it due to her immigration status and the language barrier. Faiza was sponsored by her husband to come to Canada which meant her permanent residency was conditional upon staying with her partner for two years. Thankfully, there is a clause for those experiencing domestic violence to flee without getting deported, but sadly many don't know this and fear leaving because they're told they'll get deported. Faiza isn't the first woman at Nisa Homes who is sponsored by her spouse to come to Canada only to experience abuse but can't reach out for help because they're in a new country, they don't know anyone, don't know the language or the system, and finally, are being fed lies and threats that they would go to jail or be deported or get in trouble for reaching out.
Now Faiza was in the hospital due to complications in her pregnancy and had decided not to go back for the safety of her child. That afternoon, I visited Faiza at the hospital and helped her in completing the Nisa Homes application. Although she would not be able to leave the hospital until the baby was born, it was important for us to have everything ready for her to move in as soon as she was released.
Five weeks later, I got a call from her case worker at the hospital informing me that Faiza had given birth to a healthy baby boy, seven weeks premature. We quickly rushed to have the baby moved to the hospital closest to Nisa Homes and have Faiza move in when she was ready. Thankfully, a family had just moved out several days prior and I had a chance to get Faiza’s room ready with our volunteers.
During her stay at Nisa Homes, Faiza’s son remained in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) until the last two weeks. We worked around the clock to ensure Faiza would be able to get an apartment as soon as possible. After a disappointing meeting with the subsidized housing team regarding an offered apartment, we were pleasantly surprised when she was offered a second apartment just days later.
Today, Faiza and her son are living in their own apartment and still keep in touch with the rest of the residents at Nisa Homes. Faiza taught everyone that even when things don’t seem like they will look up, prayer is the only place to turn because "verily, with every hardship comes ease" [94:5].
“I was scared to come to Nisa Homes but Nisa Homes was the biggest blessing Allah gave me and [my son].”