“More Than a Job”

Mus­lim Food Bank Suc­cess Sto­ries

The Miracle - - Youth - How Vol­un­teer­ing for the Mus­lim Food Bank Changed a Syr­ian Woman’s Life?

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.

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