When I was 29 years old, I moved to Canada from Brazil with a dream of making a difference. It was a big life change; one that I was both scared and hopeful for. It meant leaving everyone I knew behind, finding a new home, and learning a new language.
I had no idea, at the time, what a positive impact that decision would have on my life.
Although I was terrified of what might lay ahead, I hoped that I would fit in and meet even a couple people that would help my new city feel like home. To my surprise, I found so much more.
I stumbled into a community of supportive, caring, inspirational people who made me feel like I truly belong. What started as answering a job ad, turned into finding a new second family, and a career I truly love.
I was welcomed into the YMCA of Okanagan’s child care team with open arms and was even told that they would fund my education while I worked. This meant I could continue my passion of working with children by obtaining my Early Childhood Educator designation in Canada.
For this opportunity, I am truly grateful.
It isn’t always easy to succeed in a new country. Many people are not as lucky. Without the financial support of the Y, I don’t think I could have done it on my own.
Although I miss our family back home in Brazil, I consider my colleagues to be part of my extended family.
The first person to visit us in the hospital and hold my new daughter was actually my coworker. I even have a picture from my wedding that is of us in front of the big rainbow outside at Little Scholars YMCA Child Care.
Now, nearly 10 years after moving to Canada, I am grateful to be in a leadership role in YMCA Child Care, and both of my daughters have grown up in Y child care programs, benefiting from our amazing Playing to Learn curriculum, which I wholeheartedly believe in.
It truly does take a community to raise a child. I feel proud that our children feel respected, included, and happy. Having care for our children in an environment that we trust, where we know they will thrive, is our priority. We’ve never doubted that the Y has had a positive impact on their lives through their early years.
This whole experience has shaped who I am. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t made the decision to move to Canada. I am a better parent through all that I have learned. I know my family and community back in Brazil are comforted knowing that we are so supported in our home here in Kelowna.
I've made lifelong connections and feel truly accepted. That is all anyone can ask for.