Niyba initially hesitated when I asked for an interview. With six kids to take care of, the stay-at-home mom did not really have time to spare for a chat. But despite her busy schedule, she was willing to share her experiences, especially knowing that it will benefit newcomers. So she agreed to be interviewed, but it had to be between 4:00 and a little bit past 5:00 pm. Her older kids return from school around this time and she would need to attend to them.
This tight schedule is what makes it hard for Niyba to go out and take formal English classes. Back in 2012 and 2014, she had enrolled in face to face English classes but had to quit both times because of pregnancy. So when she applied for Citizenship early this year, she was denied because she lacked the LINC/CLIC certificate that was required. The LINC/CLIC certificate must attest to a Canadian Language Benchmark 4 or higher. She consulted WELARC about her situation and they recommended English Online. Niyba is currently waitlisted for the LINC program but in the meantime, she attends English Online’s Coffee Chats so she can start honing her English language skills.
Her story: Love in the time of war
Fleeing war-torn Afghanistan was one of the most difficult things Niyba had to go through. First, she had to flee to Iran to avoid the Taliban attacks. This was actually a short-lived move since conflict in Iran was also escalating. However, while in Iran, Niyba met the man who would be her husband. They got married and decided to go back to Afghanistan hoping things have gotten better there. ”I decided to go back to my country hoping that the war would be over. But it was still not safe,” Niyba said. After the young couple had a child, they realized that it was now urgent to find a more stable place where their child can have a better future. So in 2007, the family fled to Pakistan.
While in Pakistan, the couple has two more kids. Meanwhile, Niyba’s mother, sisters and brother who have recently immigrated to Manitoba were now ready to sponsor her to come. It took a few years but on November 15, 2011, Niyba and her young family arrived in Winnipeg.
It’s never too late to achieve your dreams
Moving to Manitoba, Niyba and her family found the stability they desired. “I did not have a hard time adjusting to this country because of the support of my family,” she said. Upon arriving, Niyba and her family were welcomed with a place to live and assistance for all their immediate needs. “My brother did not go to work for a week just to show us how to get our SIN, go to the bank, and teach us other things,” she said.
The family settled into a comfortable life, with Niyba taking care of her growing family. She was able to take a few settlement and English courses early on, but when she had more kids it became evident that taking care of them had to be the priority. This is why Niyba found learning with English Online as a godsend. “I like studying with English Online because I don’t have to leave the house. I can go to a room while my older children watch the younger ones. I join Coffee Chats in the evenings when all my work around the house is done,” Niyba said. Aside from practicing her English skills, she is also happy that she is learning things about Manitoba to update her knowledge.
“I met people who set goals for the future. They planned their learning to achieve something. I think I can do it too.”
But more than these, the Coffee Chats have inspired her to have goals. Niyba was just a student when she left Afghanistan. And because of the constant move to various countries and the subsequent responsibilities of motherhood, she never got to finish her studies and pursue her dreams. “Before, I wanted to be a teacher, or maybe become a nurse. When I think about it now, I say it’s impossible because I’m too old to start and because of the kids,” she said. This view changed when she began to attend Coffee Chats. “I met people who set goals for the future. They planned their learning to achieve something. I think I can do it too,” Niyba said. She now resolves to take classes to earn an accounting or a nursing degree once her babies get a little bit older.
So today, Niyba is now learning to set goals and working to achieve them one step at a time. Her immediate target is to acquire her LINC certification, and then to earn her citizenship. But it will not stop there. There is enthusiasm in her voice when she said “when my kids get a little bit older, I plan to go back to school. Education is the key to success”.