Healthy Communities Welcoming Syrian Refugees Y Stories

Noushin’s journey to success in a new country

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. -Francis of Assisi

Between 2006 and 2011,over a million people immigrated to Canada. That translates to half of the population of Toronto born outside of Canada. With the arrival of many newcomers to Canada, there are many stories of adversity, perseverance and hope.


Noushin and her family immigrated to Canada in 2014; a journey that not only taught them about themselves and tested their resilience but would forge an unexpected connection with the YMCA family.

Hailing from Iran, Noushin and her husband Amir, both professionals, arrived in Canada anticipating a bright future, especially for their then-6 year old son.

“It was important for us to get settled and find stability in our new home county, then to improve our lifestyle,” Noushin says.

Eager to continue in their chosen careers, Noushin and Amir set out immediately to look for jobs in their respective sectors. But despite diligent searching and qualified skills and experience, few interviews came their way. Noushin in particular was growing increasingly unhappy with how their efforts brought no returns.

“When we couldn’t find jobs, we had seriously considered returning to Iran. Our son is the main reason that we decided to stay,keep persisting, and find our way to success in Canada.”

A friend told Amir about the YMCA of Greater Toronto and the Newcomer and Employment services they provided for free.  Danilo Alfaro, a Job Developer at the North York Employment Centre, notes that the first time he met Noushin, she was “very friendly, respectable and receptive; I could tell that she was also frustrated and worried.” Many people who walk through the doors of YMCA Centre’s every day are from all walks of life, the common thread that Danilo sees is people who are looking an opportunity, to start a new life, to be connected, or to become active in Canadian society.

Noushin and Amir were looking for both. Danilo and the staff at the Centre set to work supporting them with resources, and advice they needed to make an impact. Noushin and Amir participated in many activities and services that the centre offers, such as career counselling, mock interviews, job workshops, and job search. After weeks of learning, training and patience, Noushin and Amir experienced a small breakthrough: Amir was placed with a flooring company as a surveyor, and Noushin was placed with a local bakery at the deli counter serving customers.

“At first I was not very happy because the job was very different from the one I had back home, I felt I could do so much more, but I am grateful to have this  job. It’s very good experience for me because I was able to make connections with people, learn more about my new country, and it prepared me for when I will eventually get back to my chosen profession here.”

Danilo noticed a significant change in Noushin, noting that she had a renewed purpose and hope to develop her opportunites. “She definitely became more confident in herself because she was able to provide for her family, and she and her husband committed themselves to continuous improvement every day.”

Noushin and Amir are currently studying to regain jobs in their chosen professions, in addition to working at the jobs Danilo found for them. They are more than confident that their outlook on their future in Canada is brighter than the day they arrived here.

“There are lots of ways to success. If you want to find a way for yourself, don’t give up.”