Veronika arrived in Toronto from Russia with her 2 daughters on her husband’s sponsorship – who had been living and working in Canada. She was hopeful that in a new country they would be able to make a new and happy life together.
Things did not work out the way she had hoped.
"I had nowhere to go, nowhere safe for my children."
Her husband was an alcoholic. He was controlling and he was abusive. “While I was living with him here, I thought I couldn’t live like that for the rest of my life, but I didn’t know what to do. I had nowhere to go.” He had control over her life and her children’s as their sponsor, and he would threaten her and tell her that he could have her and the children deported if he wanted. “When he was drunk he would tell me that my kids annoyed him and I feared that he might actually hurt them one day.”
One night in a fit of rage he kicked Veronika and her daughters out of the house.
“He kicked us out of the house and told me you have to go back home to Russia. I had nowhere to go, nowhere safe for my children. I didn’t know about shelters, but a friend I had met told me that there was someplace safe we could go.“ Her friend drove Veronika and her daughters to the Red Door.
“When we came here, I just felt so much relief that we had a place to stay. I was a bit scared because I didn’t know what it was like in a shelter, and I barely spoke English at the time.
I met some friends – other Russian speaking women that helped me a lot. My case-worker at the Red Door also spoke Russian which was a blessing.”
Our Housing and Outreach department worked hard to find affordable housing for Veronika and her daughters, and with perseverance her housing worker was able to secure a subsidized apartment so that Veronika could continue with her full-time schooling.
“I was so lucky to have this apartment in such a good neighbourhood. When I stepped in the door, I just felt like… finally, a place of my own. I was just so relieved and excited. I never had the opportunity to live on my own before.”
Veronika received furniture and small appliances from our Moving Program to help her get started in her new apartment.
We connected her to the Ontario Works program to provide her with student subsidy so that she could complete her ESL classes, and high-school accreditation course. She is now speaking English quite fluently and plans to apply to college this year to study for a new career in computer programming.
Her daughters are happy and enjoying meeting new friends at their new school. They are most looking forward to attending a summer camp again this year with other children from the shelter.
“Red Door helped me so much. I didn’t speak English, I didn’t have a place to live. I didn’t even know how to use TTC. In the shelter I had time to think about my life, and I was given the opportunities to start a better future for my children.”
Learn more about how you can help women like Veronika.