A Wealth of Cultures
Communitas has a very multicultural workforce with more than 450 employees representing over 60 countries in the world. One of Communitas’ most diverse residences is managed by Emmanuel Denguessi. The twelve people who serve the three gentlemen who live in the home represent 10 countries: Cameroon, Canada, China, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Malawi, Philippines, U.S.A. and Vietnam. It’s like a little United Nations and Emmanuel (Cameroon) says that is evident in how the staff interact with each other.
“We really are like a family here,” he says. “We have a wealth of cultures and we have found a way to share the best of this with each other.”
James (Kenya) says that each person’s life experiences enriches the conversations they have with each other.
“We have similar issues and circumstances but have experienced them in different contexts,” he says. “Everyone brings their own strengths.”
Bekele (Ethiopia) agrees. “Seeing things from different perspectives makes it very interesting. We’re blended together and that’s a good thing.”
Loralee (USA) appreciates the subtle ways that people share their culture with each other like sharing foods from their homeland. Newton says that having others from Africa on staff makes him less homesick even though he’s the only one from Malawi.
Having so many people from different backgrounds and perspectives can also have its challenges. Sometimes things can literally get lost in translation so clear communication is an important part of daily interactions. Emmanuel says that the fact that this doesn’t happen very often speaks to the ability of each immigrant to have adapted to Canadian culture. Most of the staff have been in Canada for years – Loralee has been here for 45 years, Daniel (Kenya) for 29 years, and Bekele for 22 years, for example. While one’s homeland culture never leaves them, the longer one has lived in their adopted country, the easier it is to understand its culture. And having a sense of humour helps.
“There’s always something to laugh about, which makes the tough days better,” Daniel says with a smile.
It’s also clear that each one loves their work and enjoys being with the people they serve. They enjoy celebrating accomplishments and are rewarded when one of the gentlemen living in the home opens up to them or shows affection, indicating that they feel safe enough to do so.
Newton appreciates working for a faith-based organization and tries to serve as Jesus would serve.
“I want to be a servant,” he says. “Jesus didn’t judge people to see if they were worth serving, he just served them. The work can sometimes be challenging but the satisfaction comes from trying to see things from the perspective of the men who live here and understand them that way.”
Loralee says they are also motivated when they have opportunities to meet with the families of these gentlemen. Holiday gatherings are an opportunity to be with their parents and hear the difference that it makes to their lives having their children safely and lovingly cared for.
For Jay, who is one of only two staff members to have been born and raised in Canada, his fellow staff members are the reason he comes to work each day. He considers his colleagues to be his friends.
“We really have something unique, rare even, and most of the time it doesn’t feel like work,” he says. “When it does get heavy, we have a strong support system here. We’re just like family.”
Communitas values its diverse workforce. On February 20, 2018, Communitas is hosting its second Immigrant Job Fair. If you are new to Canada and have a heart for serving others, there may be a place for you with Communitas.