Finding a Place to Grow
When Emmanuel Denguessi reflects on his home country of Cameroon, the first thing that comes to mind is community.
“Everything was shared by everyone, no one was missed,” he says.
This definitely happened in his own home where he didn’t have a bed of his own until he was 17 years old, sharing it with his siblings.
“We passed clothing down from one sibling to another, four of us would eat off of the same plate,” he says. “There was joy in being together.”
Emmanuel came to Canada as an athlete, traveling here for an international volleyball tournament with the Cameroonian Olympic Volleyball Team. When the tournament was done, he ended up staying here, eventually becoming a Canadian citizen.
One of the biggest challenges in forging a new life in a new country was finding work, primarily because the process in Canada is quite different.
“In Cameroon, you get a job either by recommendation or through government mass hiring. When you are contacted for a job, it means you have it,” he says. “Here, I had to present myself with a resume, go through an interview process and then once I was hired, I still had to prove myself over a period of time. It’s very different.”
Contract work or temporary work are not common concepts in Cameroon where often one is hired at a job and then stays there for an entire career. By contrast, in his first three years in Canada, Emmanuel worked in several different industries with different companies and organizations.
This is a wonderful, welcoming organization to work for. You could find a home here too. – Emmanuel
Education became an avenue for employment stability. Emmanuel grew up in a Christian family and his faith is very important to him. He achieved a degree in Caregiving and Counselling and a Diploma in Biblical Studies from Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford and then began looking for a job where he could put his education to good use. He found his home with Communitas Supportive Care Society, a faith-based organization with over 40 years of experience caring for people with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges.
“Many friends of mine already worked for Communitas and they encouraged me to apply for a position, so I did,” he says.
Emmanuel began as a community support worker, walking alongside two individuals as they took part in different activities in their community. In 2013, he moved to one of Communitas’ residential homes as a residential support worker where he now serves as manager. His experience with Communitas has been one of growing closer to God.
“As a caregiver, I have been challenged to always care, even if I don’t feel like it,” he explains. “As a manager, I have learned to trust others and allow my coworkers to exercise their gifts in the work we do. As an employee, I am always reminded that I am not alone.”
He is grateful for the support he has received from other staff who have set an example for him and have “embodied the spirit of servant-leadership.”
Today, Emmanuel is married and has a young son. Just as community was important to his life in Cameroon, it has proved to be important to his life in Canada as well. He misses his siblings back home but realizes that his church and his Communitas communities have become surrogate family for him.
And to those who are new to Canada and are looking for work, Emmanuel’s advice is to be bold, to be open to new experiences and to learn as much as possible about the new culture you’re living in.
“Don’t stay in your corner, educate yourself,” he says. “Have a resume and learn how to apply online.”
And just as he was encouraged to apply for work with Communitas, he encourages other to do the same.
“This is a wonderful, welcoming organization to work for,” he says. “You could find a home here too.”