Emma came to Canada from Ghana with her Dad when she was 14 years ago of age. “There are a lot of adjustments moving to a new country,” Emma reflects. But when she was 17 years of age, she was kicked out of the home as her Dad didn’t approve of her choices.
Emma stayed with an Uncle for a few weeks but it wasn’t a good long-term option. She started looking online and found Wesley Youth Housing. “They took me in and I stayed in this program for 2 years. I learned so much – I knew nothing about life skills such as cooking and cleaning.”
Emma graduated from Wesley Youth Housing and was living in a bachelor apartment when she became pregnant. Public Health referred her to Health Babies Healthy Children Program – Family Home Visitors. She was 7 months pregnant when she first met a Wesley Family Home Visitor. “I was freaking out and was so nervous but they helped me get ready before the baby was born and introduced me to a pre-natal nutrition group.”
Her son was born three weeks early and stayed in ICU for one week. “He had a lot of wires attached to him and he was not a pretty sight.” When they were able to return home, Emma found breastfeeding a challenge but was determined to keep trying. With the support of her Home Visitor and Public Health, she had a moment when, “…all of a sudden, he started latching and feeding – it was emotional for me.”
Emma credits Wesley for helping her to register at the Early ON program at 155 Queen Street North for baby and parenting classes and getting connected to other community resources. While she has not remained in contact with her family, she has received support from her church that moved her from a bachelor apartment to a two bedroom while she was in hospital delivering her son.
One of the most touching parts of her story is that she didn’t need any assistance from her Home Visitor in how to eat healthy or make baby food. “I learned nutrition and how to cook on a budget from Wesley Youth Housing,” Emma credits.
As she tells her story, her Home Visitor beams with pride and says, “She’s a natural Mom; she has such an attachment and connection with her son that will go a long way.”
When asked about her advice to other homeless youth or young parents, Emma thoughtfully reflects, “Don’t let what happened to you control you. You need to take time to get used to the new path you’re taking. It’s takes time but there’s a lot of help. You just have to be determined to learn.”
Emma is definitely determined. She talks about returning to work or going back to school in the future. Wesley can continue to offer support through Wesley Child Care and Wesley Employment Services as well as our Scholarship program for clients returning to school or re-training.