Leaving a difficult marriage brought Fatme el Majzoub to Canada from Lebanon as a refugee in 2008. “I had no plan B,” says Fatme about her decision. “I’m really grateful I could stay in Canada.”
She had been to Canada before, visiting family in Edmonton and Ontario, but decided on Halifax as her daughter teaches history at Dalhousie University.
Even though three children are still in Lebanon, Fatme is prepared to make her life here. “I am happy here now,” she says, explaining that she had health problems when she arrived. She is living with her daughter and her granddaughter, and works hard at adjusting. “It’s even a big adventure taking the bus,” she recalls with great laughter. She didn’t know about bus stops and was perplexed as to why the driver wouldn’t stop precisely where she waved enthusiastically one day. She even sent a text to her brother in the United Arab Emirates to entertain him with her story. “But I’m lucky as I always meet friendly people. What you feel is reflected back to you.”
At the encouragement of her daughter, Fatme came to Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia for Business Counselling and workshops, English classes and Employment Counselling. And since her second language is French, she took a French course at the Halifax campus of Université Ste Anne.
Fatme also enrolled in English for Academic Purposes at the Nova Scotia Community College as she loves to learn. “It’s my passion. I like to be a student and to be informed about everything.” She has taught herself computer skills and would like to take advanced courses.
“When I think I need to learn something, I call Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia and they refer me to someone. I have learned many things here – I learned about business and how to buy things and go to the shopping centres.” Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia also referred her to the OWL — Older Wiser Labourforce — Project at the Halifax Shopping Centre, designed to help people over 55 return to the workforce.
A woman of many skills, Fatme would like to find work. She was a teacher in Lebanon for six years and then owned a pharmacy, two boutiques and a cosmetics shop. She has started to write a cookbook and as a fabulous cook she would be happy in the food industry. Fatme has also been writing a non-fiction book in Arabic and plans to send it to her son in Lebanon to be published. “I always read a lot. My mother claimed I was born with a book in my hand!” A friend has encouraged her to write about her own rich life experiences.
When Fatme’s plane landed in Halifax she immediately felt at home. “I have a different life now. And at Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia I feel l have a back – someone who supports me.”