“More Than a Job”
Muslim Food Bank Success Stories
Can you imagine never having worked your entire life? That was Maisa Azar’s life until she started volunteering for the Muslim Food Bank. Maisa, 41, juggles between her job and taking care of her five kids but she has never felt more fulfilled. Maisa was only eighteen when she got married in her native Syria to a Syrian-Canadian man. Soon after, she moved to Canada and started her journey of learning English and making Canada her new home. Maisa’s young adult years were spent raising a family. When her kids were old enough, she decided to start working so she could sponsor her mother from Syria. Maisa had heard about the Muslim Food Bank from her friends so she applied to be a volunteer. Her application was accepted and she handled various tasks such as greeting clients, packing food parcels and handing them out. Maisa also volunteered at a Sunday school called Iqra based in Surrey. Maisa and her friend took orders to make lunch for students. She cooked the meal at her home, packed it and then delivered it to the classrooms. After volunteering for the Muslim Food Bank for a year, Maisa was offered a paid job and she accepted it in a heartbeat. To Maisa, working at the Muslim Food Bank is more than just a job, it’s life changing. Though most people can vouch the changes the food bank brings in its clients’ lives, the lesser-known fact is that the volunteers get a lot out of their experience as well. Take Maisa’s example, she had never held a job before she was given the opportunity to volunteer at the Muslim Food Bank. At first, she started with helping in handing out food parcels then she went to train to be a caseworker and now support clients with whatever challenges life throws their way. Handling her housework along with the job isn’t easy but Maisa is happy knowing that she is contributing to the community. Maisa’s case is not unique to immigrants. Many women in their forties that try to enter (or re-enter) the workforce face many challenges, not the least of which is being considered inexperienced. That these women are usually competent, organised and motivated individuals is often overlooked by employers. The fact of the matter is that women’s labor inside the home is devalued for the sheer fact that they are not paid for the work they do. Organisations like the Muslim Food Bank are turning the tide by channeling such women’s skills in the right direction and are giving them the opportunities to prove their worth. Most days Maisa drives to work but when her husband takes the car, she walks to the food bank. “This job doesn’t feel like a job because you know you’re helping people,” Maisa says. “I put myself in the refugees’ shoes and remember how I felt when I’d first arrived in Canada.” To Maisa’s surprise, six months after she submitted the application to sponsor her mother, she was accepted into Canada. Maisa i f feels l that h hli helping people l who h are at the lowest point in their lives has been the reason that she was reunited with her mother. Since her mother’s arrival, she has joined Maisa as a volunteer at the Muslim Food Bank. What’s amazing is that this is the first time her mother has ever worked outside the home as well. Maisa wants women to know that no matter what their circumstances are, they can work and making a living. “No woman should have to sit at home. Even if she has kids, she should know that she can work,” Maisa says. These are real stories where our volunteers have an impact on members of our community helping them progress in their lives. InshaAllah next week we will bring you another story. Please join us to have a purpose in your life to make a difference in the lives of your brothers and sisters by coming to our events and registering as a volunteer or donating to your organization, the Muslim Food Bank and Community Services Society (usually referred to as Muslim Food Bank) atwww.muslimfoodbank.com/donate. Our email is contact muslimfoodbank.com and telephone number is 1-866-824-2525.