Elsa's Story | Red Door Family Shelter

Elsa's Story

After years of living in fear, constantly looking over her shoulder and watching her words, Elsa was finally ready to take a brave step into the unknown.

"He said he would kill me, and I believed that one day he really would." Elsa didn’t know what the future held, but nothing could be worse than the constant daily fear for her own life and that of her child.

Risking her life and leaving everything she knew behind, brave Elsa escaped to Canada as a refugee with her son, Abraham.

Cold, scared, and uncertain, Elsa and Abraham, aged 3, spent their first night in Canada in the basement of a church. In the morning they came to the Red Door Shelter.

Adjusting to life at the shelter was tough. Abraham did not speak but he couldn’t stop crying. At night he would rock and make noises, waking the other women and children sharing the room. Elsa was so worried about him.

Abraham still hadn’t spoken a word, and when Elsa took him to see a doctor he was diagnosed with autism. It was only a few days later that Elsa learned that her refugee application had been denied.

"My heart sank.  What was I going to do?" She was terrified that she would be sent back to her husband. So an immigration lawyer set to work on her case. Meanwhile Elsa received much-needed therapy and loving care at the Red Door Shelter.

Abraham was cared for in the Red Door childcare program and Elsa was connected to the special education service by the Red Door school liaison worker. Elsa began making plans for her and Abraham’s new life in Canada, in the hope that they would be allowed to stay.

Eventually Elsa got the good news that her immigration appeal had been successful. Her dream had come true! Knowing that she can stay in Canada, Elsa is finally free to live a happy life safe from her abuser.

When Elsa was ready to move out of the Red Door Shelter she found an apartment in the same building as some other former residents. They look after each other and take turns babysitting.

"When I saw the apartment for the first time, I had tears in my eyes.  I am just so grateful for the opportunity to live in Canada and raise my son here." 

Elsa looks forward to raising her son here and to contributing to the community. She now has a work permit and is studying to be a secretary.  With help, Elsa has transformed her life from surviving at the hands of a cruel abuser, to one of freedom, hope and fresh promise.

Last year, 289 homeless families stayed at our shelter. Affected by abuse, a housing crisis or as refugees, each family deserves the best of what we can do to help.

Please donate today to help more families like Elsa and Abraham.