We want all parents to be proud to have their children here, says Hoda Ibrahim, director and owner of Care & Fun Childcare in Halifax. After only a few months, the centre has 50 children and a staff of 11. Hoda came to Canada from Egypt with her husband, Ayman, and children, Amr and Basma, on Canada Day 2009 and, with their support, has worked hard to make this dream come true.
When she arrived Hoda worked in customer service at Winners, assisted at childcare centres and did volunteer work. She enrolled in training to focus on becoming a small business owner.
Hoda earned her Early Childhood Education certificate and Bachelor of Science in Egypt. She worked there as a teacher, a supervisor and a human resources director. Amr wanted to study in Canada so the family immigrated. They lived in Toronto for a year but found Halifax more welcoming. Amr now studies psychology and management at Dalhousie University, Basma is in high school and Ayman, a pharmacist, works as a health company general manager.
Hoda first went to Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia to have her driver’s license translated. Realizing how much the organization could assist her, Arabic-speaking Hoda took courses to improve her English. She also met with an Employment Specialist. “She helped me a lot. She played a big part in my life.” Hoda sometimes caters for Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia and has worked as a volunteer for SupperNOVA Multicultural Potluck. The energetic entrepreneur has taken courses about safety and taxes, as well as Pre-Employment Workshops. Family Counselling was useful in understanding the particularities of Canadian life, and a nutrition course was put to good use at work.
You can’t be a success unless you know everything about your business.
Care & Fun Childcare has infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers from several countries. Children up to 12 years old – often siblings of younger ones – participate in an after-school program. “It helps parents to have their children all in one place,” says Hoda. She has a staff of 11 including a full-time cook. Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia provided assistance to find three staff members from Syria, Iran and Libya, as well as on-call substitutes from Ethiopia, Iran, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon. As Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia helped her integrate, she now helps her staff and the immigrant families whose children come there.
“I have a lot of confidence and experience, but it’s a big responsibility,” says Hoda who often works 12-hour days, doing everything from managing staff, to dealing with parents, to changing diapers. “You can’t be a success unless you know everything about your business.” Hoda says she still faces challenges, but feels she has the right combination of skills to make her centre a success. “I’m honest, I’m not rude and I follow the regulations. I’m happy but tired, and
happy that I’m tired!” Indeed, she just might have the right stuff.